On Wednesday, Oct. 3, 57 local men and boys endured some mild discomfort and strange looks in the service of a greater cause.
For the ninth time in its history, the Thompson YWCA organized their Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to raise awareness and funds to help stop violence against women and girls.
As has become tradition, the local male participants strapped on the fundraiser’s signature red high-heeled shoes and walked from the YWCA to the city’s downtown core and back.
The bulk of this year’s participants were mostly made up of members of the Thompson RCMP, CHTM Radio and the Norman Northstars hockey team, who had to contend with snow and freezing temperatures in addition to some unfamiliar footwear.
Luckily, beyond a couple blisters, no major spills or injuries were reported.
These participants also managed to raise a grand total of $4,025 for the YWCA’s women’s centre, with the biggest contributions coming from Eric Campbell, Nelson Pruder, Colin Bonnycastle and Ryan Land (on behalf of Vale).
According to YWCA executive director Kim Hickes, this unorthodox exercise is organized throughout Canada and the United States as means of helping men empathize with the lived experiences their female counterparts.
“This event not only promotes and provides an opportunity to get people talking, but it also has a preventative educational component to help men better understand and appreciate women’s experiences with the hope of changing perspectives,” she said. “It also demonstrates that men are willing and able to be courageous partners with women in making our world a safer place.”
While the whole event took on a light tone, Hickes made sure to remind everyone about the grim reality of gendered violence in Thompson and Northern Manitoba in general.
Right before Wednesday’s march officially began, she cited the School District of Mystery Lake’s 2016 Youth Behavioural Study, which found that almost one in five of their Grade 7 to 12 female students, 18 per cent, reported experiencing some kind of physical abuse.
“Take a look around and just recognize that violence is still very prevalent in the north,” said Hickes.