Friday, October 21, 2011

March tries to Take Back the Night for women

March tries to Take Back the Night for women

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

March tries to Take Back the Night for women

HANDS cupped around candles, hundreds of Manitobans took to the streets on Thursday to shine a light and raise their voices to Take Back the Night.

As the sun set, more than 300 people turned out for the annual march, now in its fourth decade of protesting violence against women.

Though they walked in memory of the lost, the march did not go quietly. They beat drums and raised a cacophony of chants, whistles, songs and scattered claps -- a clattering racket made to smash the silence around women who disappeared forever into the night.

Like the silence of Divas Boulanger, killed and left at a rest stop in Portage la Prairie in 2004, remembered on this march in photos her friends held high towards a darkening sky.

Or like the silenced voice of Hillary Angel Wilson, 18, who vanished into the night in 2009. Her body was found on a road outside Winnipeg, only one month after that of her friend, Cherisse Houle, was discovered. Both were killed. Both of their families still wait for answers.

"We stand in solidarity tonight with all the women who have been abused," said Sally Wai, who helped found the Central Park Women's Resource Centre.

As they gathered in front of the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre -- near where a young girl was abducted and sexually assaulted in spring 2010 -- Wai called for an end to attacks that, she said, amount to a war against women.

"Is someone out there to hear my prayer?" she called. "I am a woman, I am a proud woman, and I always will be... Stop the violence. We have to stand up."

After the march wove through the West End and spilled onto Portage Avenue, then gathered for bannock and tea near the corner of Langside Street and Ellice Avenue, Wilson's aunt Candace Volk straightened the T-shirt that bears her niece's face.

Volk now volunteers with a Facebook page that helps send out alerts and gather information about vanished women and girls. She knows too many of the faces she sees at marches like Take Back the Night.

"You know so many people by face, know that they're going through the same thing you are," Volk said. Her family will celebrate Hillary's birthday in November, still hoping for answers.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2011 A13

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