A march to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence is taking place in Guelph.
Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis is holding a Take Back the Night event starting at 6 p.m. Thursday at Marianne’s Park.
The theme of this year’s march is “Our Bodies, Our Rights, Our Streets.” In a news release, the organization said the theme is especially relevant this year, when public discussions about women’s rights and autonomy over their bodies have been front and centre in the media.
“We have some incredible guest speakers who are going to come out and share their perspective and insights on the theme,” said event organizer Cindy McMann. “We hope to get the march started around 6:15 that will take us through the downtown.”
The march is expected to end at St. George’s Park.
This will be the first live Take Back the Night march since 2019 and McMann — who also works as a public educator at Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis — says everyone is ready to get back together to have an evening of solidarity.
She says a lot has changed in the subject of sexual violence since the mass murder of 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal nearly 33 years ago.
“There has been a shift in the conversation,” said McMann. “We go from how to teach girls not to get assaulted to teaching everybody about how to respect boundaries, have healthy conservations about sexuality, and how not to assault other people.”
This is the second event in Guelph this week on the issue of sexual and gender-based violence. The University of Guelph and other post-secondary institutions in Ontario held a We Believe You Day on Tuesday in support of sexual assault survivors.
“We are joining together to let survivors know that what happened to them was not their fault, that we believe them and we are here for them,” Melissa Conte, U of G’s sexual and gender-based violence support co-ordinator, said in a news release.
McMann said that “coming forward and speaking out against sexual violence is becoming a lot less stigmatized.”
“A lot of people are now recognizing the scope of the problem,” she said.
For more on the Take Back the Night event, go to its Facebook page.
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