- Our Town
V-Day raises awareness of violence against women
The Boundary Women’s Coalition (BWC), working with the Boundary Community Metis Association and Boundary All Nations Aboriginal Council, gathered at Gyro Park in Grand Forks this past on Feb. 14 to bring the typically ‘behind closed doors’ issue of violence, literally out into the streets.
“The V stands for violence,” said Jo White President of the BWC. “A lot of people, women especially, experience violence and they don’t even know it. That’s just their reality. It’s what they know.”
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that occurred in cities around the world this past Valentines Day.
“In a lot of ways we’re fighting futility,” White added. “There’s the idea that ‘nothing ever changes, so why bother.’” The driving inspiration behind the march is one of solidarity, for those who are victims to violence, and one of action, she said.
The event began at noon with a tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women, with words spoken by representatives from organizations and members of the community alike.
“I don’t know where our sisters have gone,” said Samantha Mercer-White, addressing the crowd of men, women and children who had gathered. “I do not know why we still do not have answers.”
President of the Boundary All Nations Aboriginal Council Joanie Holmes reminded the crowd that violence is not a far away issue. Holmes invited everyone to remember the Grand Forks and the Boundary’s own, Carmen Redhead, Tanyia Lynne Curry, Sharon Anne Thomas, Allanah Regan, Cynthia Crampton, Elsie Friesen and Tina Leadly who were taken in violence. Colleen Smith from Rock Creek has been missing for over a year.
According to Justice Statistics Canada (JSC), Indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women. The United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in three women will experience violence within their lifetime.
These statistics are the inspiration behind One Billion Rising (OBR). Taking into consideration those statistics, one billion women worldwide will experience violence. OBR, like V-Day, is a worldwide movement.
The solemn tribute to the lives of lost Indigenous women stands as a reminder that there is a long history of inequality, loss and heartbreak in Canada.
“It is an injustice that the survivors must ask these questions [about why this inequality exists],” said Lori Lum, who also addressed the crowd of about 50 people who had joined hands in a circle.
At its core, V-Day inspires the belief that art has the power to transform thinking and inspire people to act, and encouraged people worldwide to dance in the streets, to come together in joy and not be defeated by violence. Unfortunately, due to the snow in Gyro Park, there was no dancing in Grand Forks. There were drums, which filled the air as the crowd marched around downtown and sang the Women’s Warrior song.
The community was then invited back to the Boundary Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) for refreshments and inspired discussion. The centre, located on Market Ave., is a safe space for women in the community, while also providing services to men in the Boundary.
Services the centre offers
The BWRC offers a variety of services for both men and women. Men’s legal services are offered at the centre in Grand Forks on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Although it is drop in, it is wise to book ahead, said legal advisor Barry Pratt, as it books up quickly. For residents of the West Boundary, Pratt is in Midway on the fourth Wednesday every month.
The BWRC also holds space for a men’s support group Tuesday evenings. “[The support group] is not a drop in group,” Pratt explains. Pratt meets with anyone interested in attending before hand, so for those interested phone inquiries are necessary. Information about the men’s programs can be found at the BWRC.
On the second and fourth Wednesday of each month the centre offers an outreach program for women that provides assistance with paperwork, planning, getting organized and empowering women’s independence.
Women’s drop-in runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. there is a “Stopping the Violence” drop-in.
“A lot of women don’t even know that [they are being subjected to] violence,” White said. “When violence is all that someone has known, it isn’t easy to recognize for what it is.”
For more information about the services the BWRC offers contact: Boundary Women’s Resource Centre at 1-855-441-3131, the Men’s Legal Services & Talking Circle at 250-442-9464 and the Boundary Women’s Transition House (Staffed 24 hour a day) at 250-442-3131.