You are not alone
Second annual Take Back the Night march grows in size and impact
Friday’s Take Back the Night march in Moose Jaw – the city’s second – saw an increase in participants over the previous year.
There was a time, however, when organizers worried that they would be alone; just a few people led by a police car and followed by a fire truck.
“Sometimes when you prepare for these events, you don’t know how they’re going to go,” said Moose Jaw Pride executive director Joe Wickenhauser. “You think maybe you’re the only one that’s been affected. I had that fear that it was just going to be us and the police car.”
As it turned out, the march played out quite differently. About 20 people picked up signs and took to Main Street North, chanting about an end to gender-based violence. The road was closed for a few blocks and they were escorted by the Moose Jaw Police Service and the Moose Jaw Fire Department.
“It was really touching to have people join us and walk down the street and take a stand against violence,” Wickenhauser said.
Take Back the Night is a worldwide event, started in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. Originally its meaning was quite literal: a movement for women, by women, to make London a safer place for them when they stepped outside their homes after the sun went down.
Even though you may feel like you’re the only one walking out there, you are not alone walking out there. A lot of people have your back.
Lisa Miller, Executive director at Regina Sexual Assault Centre
Since then, it has evolved into a nonprofit group that operates year-round, but also a cause that encompasses all forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence and acts against gender-diverse people.
“We’ve come a long way,” said organizer Alyssa Buck. “Now we recognize that violence isn’t limited to one group of people or one community; we recognize the LGBT community as well.”
She too expressed gratitude at the number of people who joined the march, including a few workers from the Regina Sexual Assault Centre. Executive director Lisa Miller said she sees the need for this kind of event in Moose Jaw all the time; residents of the Friendly City are often clients at the centre. While many are not ready to speak out — and it should be stressed that no one should ever feel forced to share their experiences — those who are do not find themselves alone.
“Even though you may feel like you’re the only one walking out there, you are not alone walking out there,” she said. “A lot of people have your back.”
The demographics of people supporting the marchers have also been changing. In the original event, men were not allowed to walk with women. Now, Miller said, they have become an important factor in making change.
“We need men as allies and we need them to speak up,” she said. “They need to call out their bros, their friends, and say it’s not okay.”
Studies point to the vast majority of sexual assault cases — perpetrated both by strangers and people who know the victim — going unreported. While there have been a number of high-profile cases both in Canada and the United States in recent years, that publicity and its ramifications have often made it even more daunting for people to speak out against their abusers.
“Sometimes people question the value of an event like this; that there are only 20 people or whatever,” said Wickenhauser. “But it’s important to create that ceremony and that environment where we can talk about what happens, where we know we’re not experiencing this alone. We get a lot of power when we come together.”
About 20 people marched in Friday night’s Take Back The Night event from Crescent Park down Main Street North, led by organizer Alyssa Buck.
Joe Wickenhauser and participants at Friday night’s Take Back The Night march.
Scenes from Friday night’s Take Back The Night march from Crescent Park to Main Street and back.