Students set to Take Back the Night

University of Victoria march reflects on violence against women

Jasmindra Jawanda

Community, in all of its genders, will unite Thursday.

Women, men and trans-gendered people of all ages will gather at the University of Victoria for a Take Back the Night march and candlelight moment of silence.

The University of Victoria Student Society Women’s Centre, in partnership with other on-campus advocacy-based organizations, is organizing the event, according to Jasmindra Jawanda, the group’s outreach and communications co-ordinator.

She found that UVic hasn’t held one in recent history and they hope to set a precedent and create an annual awareness march each fall.

UVic has five formal advocacy groups, the Women’s Centre, Native Students Union, PRIDE, Students of Colour Collective and Students Society with Disabilities, but the sixth informal group spurred the march.

“They’re an anomaly for us, they’re called the Anti Violence Project,” Jawanda said. They approached the Women’s Centre in September, a traditional time for Take Back the Night, in hopes of co-relating it with other projects they had on the go, such as the let’s get consensual campaign.

“They did stellar work,” Jawanda said.

The Women’s Centre wasn’t in a position to organize such a large event, but it stayed on their minds.

“It was always on the agenda,” Jawanda said, noting they use a consensus-based decision making model.

The roots of Take Back the Night go back to 1975, when Susan Alexander Speeth, a young microbiologist from Philadelphia, was stabbed to death walking home. She was a block from her home. The first rally was organized in October of that year, in response to her murder. Today the movement takes place worldwide. The events have evolved to also bring awareness to sexualized and gendered violence experienced by transgender people, Indiginous people and women of colour.

“That’s why we do it in the fall, honouring the source,” Jawanda said.

So Thursday’s event was organized, set in a time of violence awareness with Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 20, the Nov. 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the Dec. 6 National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women that marks the Montreal Massacre of 1989 where 14 women were murdered on École Polytechnique campus.

“It’s a good time to highlight events on our campus,” Jawanda said. “People want to be aware, they want to participate.”

The march itself has evolved as the world becomes more aware, addressing violence toward Indiginous women, trans-gendered people and women of colour.

Take Back the Night is an international event with the mission of ending sexual violence in all forms. This event is to raise awareness on campus and in the community about the issues of sexual and gendered violence and to let it be known that this violence, or violence of any kind, will not be tolerated.

“It’s really to highlight that lives have been lost, lives may not be safe and more lives may be lost,” she said. “We’re addressing it where it needs to be addressed. It’s organically come into its own.”

In the past, marches were women-only by design, in a symbolic gesture of women’s walk through darkness and to demonstrate that women united can resist fear and violence.

“Our Take Back the Night here at UVic is an inclusive event as we are inviting everyone – women, children, trans-gender people and men – to participate with strong voices to end the silence and stop the violence,” Jawanda said. “Men are also our allies.”

The march starts at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 27 with a rally and speakers at the Student Union Building.

“It’s going to be a student-focused event,” Jawanda said, adding guest speakers will be students.

At 5 p.m. the group will march along Ring Road to return to SUB for a candlelit vigil “to honour the lives that have been lost due to sexual and gendered violence.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

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