The ‘Take Back the Night’ campaign returned to Fredericton City Hall on Sept. 23 after two years away to bring awareness about gender-based sexual violence.
This year’s event focused on two themes: ”My Choice, My Future” and “Keep Your Laws Off My Body.”
Taylor Gyuk, a volunteer with Sexual Violence New Brunswick (SVNB), said the committee chose those themes because of the situation in the United States after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“I think it’s important to be able to have that sense of unity among the community just to uphold those rights,” she said.
Gyuk said she also wanted the event to be accessible for people who couldn’t attend physically, streaming it on Facebook Live. She added that, for the first time in the event’s history, they had a sign language interpreter on stage.
“Having COVID around for the past few years made me feel that there’s other things that we can add to the event just to make it that much better,“ she said.
The event opened with Gyuk introducing the problems that women, non-binary people and transgender people face on a daily basis, such as violence and silencing.
Shannon Snow, a demonstrator and artist, said she attended the event because she is passionate about women’s rights due to her own past.
“[I have] lots of sexual trauma. I’ve gone out to clubs. I’ve been groped; I had no idea that was assault,” she said. “I’m ready to start fighting back, help other people come forward and just be a safe place for people.”
Snow said therapy helped her realize that what she went through was assault. She said events like Take Back the Night help to bring awareness and denormalize sexual violence.
“I think women have been put down for a very long time and set to the side. I think now it’s time to really realize that we need to start respecting us as humans as well,” she said.
Andie Marks, the project coordinator with SVNB, said the event reclaims spaces that are usually unsafe and marches for the end of sexual violence.
“[The event allows] folks to feel empowered and to feel a sense of community,” said Marks.
After the march, the demonstrators returned to City Hall and watched a performance by Sisters of the Drum, a group of Indigenous women from St. Mary’s First Nation. They called for an end to violence against all women, including Indigenous women, which they said is one of the most vulnerable populations in Canada.
“There’s power in unity. There’s power in survivor stories,” said Gyuk.