The Dragonfly Counselling & Support Centre took back the night on Thursday evening with an empowering rally. People joined together to walk down mainstreet Bonnyville to show their determination to end sexual and dating violence.
“This initiative is created to stop violence in our communities. We walk as a collective to share that voice,” Cheryl Bujold, executive director of the Dragonfly Centre, said of the second annual event.
With the #MeToo movement and #IBelieveYou at its peak, it’s important to keep the message strong, said Bujold. “It’s these movements that have started this movement that we’ve been talking about for very long. It’s recognizing what we, in our communities know to be true, sexual violence impacts us all.”
Both male and female participants, along with kids took part in the walk. The displayed hand-made signs with messages like “Take Back the Night”, “No means No” and “#MeToo”. Walking unified through town, the group received honks of encouragement as they pounded the pavement.
In its second year, the walk saw over double the participants. Up from nearly a dozen in its first year to over 30.
The overall goal is to break the silence and sigma behind sexual and dating violence to show victims that they are not alone. There is support in Lakeland communities that can help victims.
“Look at our youth, they are the change in our society. They’re here tonight with the same message,” Bujold explained it’s very encouraging to see the younger generation stand up against sexual violence and understand at a young age that it is not okay.
Statistics show that in Canada one in three women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. For men those one in six will experience sexual violence.
Bujold hopes that through awareness and programs offered at the Dragonfly Centre those numbers will drop.
Take Back the Night is a worldwide initiative to stand up against sexual and dating violence. Showing solidarity to women feeling unsafe to walk alone at night.
The Dragonfly Centre has an office on main street Bonnyville and a number of outreach offices throughout the Lakeland. Including Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, Elk Point, St. Paul, Cold Lake First Nations, Kehewin Cree Nation, Saddle Lake First Nation, Frog Lake First Nation, Fishing Lake Métis Settlement and Elizabeth Métis Settlement. For more information and additional resources visit http://www.thedragonflycentre.com/ or call (780) 812-3174.