The importance of talking about violence and not suffering in silence was one of the themes at Thompson’s annual Take Back the Night March Sept. 19, when a larger than usual number of participants marched from Robin’s Donuts around Selkirk Drive, Thompson Drive and Mystery Lake Road on an unseasonably warm evening.
“It’s really important to talk about this topic that most people are not comfortable talking about,” said Thompson Crisis Centre supervisor Christine Fenner. “I too grew up in a home where there was a lot of domestic violence. I had a relationship that had domestic violence. It’s a continuous behaviour until we learn to deal with it.”
Mary Demare of the crisis centre said many problems can result from people trying to keep pain and trauma bottled up.
“We need to learn … to talk with our friends, with counsellors, with elders, ministers, whoever you trust because there’s too much drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, shoplifting. All of this is going on because of hurt, because we need to feel better and we just do things to feel better and it only makes it worse. If anyone here is going through or knows someone going through family violence encourage them to seek help.”
Thompson RCMP Const. Sandy Deibert said a key to reducing sexual and domestic violence is educating children about consent.
“When I get asked when should we start talking about consent with or children …. my answer is, ‘As soon as they understand words,’” Deibert said. “This begins with something as simple as not forcing your children to hug every relative at family events if they don’t want to. It’s teaching your children they have a say about what they do with their bodies. It’s teaching children about respecting other people and their property. It isn’t something that needs to wait until junior high school or high school.”
Three women representing three levels of government also spoke before the walk.
“Gender-based violence has to stop,” said Thompson MLA elect Danielle Adams. “Despite the progress that we have achieved, women are often victims of violence at home and in the workplace. We’re saying we’ll stand together to make sure that everybody is safe.”
Federal NDP candidate Niki Ashton, who has represented the Churchill-Keewatinook Aski riding (known as Churchill until 2015) for three terms in the House of Commons, said violence against women was not declining as quickly as violent crime as a whole.
“Violence directed against Indigenous women is at record highs,” Ashton said. “We must continue to make sure that when we talk about equality, when we talk about moving forward, that our work to end violence against women is not over. Much more must be done. Let’s keep up that work tonight, tomorrow and every day after that.”
“There’s been a rash of violence across the country this past few years and it’s definitely up to all of us to combat it and work against it,” said Mayor Colleen Smook. “We will combat it. We will work for our children. We will work for everybody in our community.”
Thompson Crisis Centre board chairperson Yvette Sinclair said that while there was a good turnout at the walk, preventing violence requires everyone to buy in.
“Thompson is our home,” said Sinclair. “It’s up to us to make sure that everybody is safe, happy, healthy. It really does take a village so I’m really glad that some of the village is here tonight. Maybe the whole village [will be] next year.”