WGST and community come together to relight a candle in the darkness
When the women and gender studies (WGST) executive members were brainstorming what events they wanted to have for their society, they knew that they wanted something that would have a strong impact on both the University community and the town itself. When the event Take Back The Night was brought up, they knew that it would fit the bill.
Take Back The Night (TBTN) is a worldwide volunteer organization promoting awareness against sexual abuse and violence.
Even though Mt. A is a small university and Sackville is a small town, sexual abuse happens here. It is important to take action against sexual violence, and TBTN provides a platform from which to do this.
Tasia Alexopoulos, former WGST professor, spoke at the event. “Sackville and Mount Allison aren’t unique: all towns, all universities, all institutions ignore and diminish violence,” she said. “This can’t just be about being safe on the streets, tonight. This is about social justice. Until there is justice for all, until we’re all safe, then there won’t be peace for anyone.”
WGST executive member Cara MacKenzie said, “It’s also important to note that while we had no issues with direct counter-protest, that does not mean we are not constantly coming up against people and policy that stand in opposition to the safety we demand. We marched past abusers. That’s a fact that we must acknowledge. We were together then but people on this campus are forced to see their abusers constantly and frequently without the protection of a group. It’s unacceptable.”
“This isn’t about being equally violent,” said Alexopoulos. “It’s about creating pressure, resistance, being disruptive and intervening. Oppressing people shouldn’t be easy. Exploiting people shouldn’t be easy. Hurting people shouldn’t be easy. Tonight and every day, let’s make it harder.”
Kana Tagawa, another WGST student attending the event said, “Many people try to ignore the issue of sexual violence happening here in Sackville. It is important that we raise our voices so that this issue can be taken seriously … and solutions can be brought to victims of sexual violence.”
On the night of the rally, a group of students and faculty gathered at the Student Centre to listen to speeches and light candles before heading out on the walk. Participants learned chants and cheers as they began their march. Despite the night’s rain, participants did not falter in their peaceful protest.
Amber Quinn, one of the organizers of the event, said, “I think that people often assume the numbers of sexual violence are lower in smaller communities. It’s important for people to acknowledge that this is an ongoing problem everywhere and that the size of the community doesn’t determine the number of violences that take place.”
The event raised awareness of sexual violence and the need for change in Sackville and the Mt. A community in order to create a safer space for all, reminding us all that even the light of the smallest candle will brighten the darkness.