Take Back the Night: Marching for Equality

Signs from 2017's Take Back the Night. (Nick Brown/Brandon University Students' Union)

The 2017 Take Back the Night march was held on Thursday, September 21st. It started as a rainy day but the sky cleared up in the time for the speakers, and the march that took place without the attendees getting drenched.

Before the event, I sat down and talked with Jenna English who is the chair of the Women’s Collective on campus. She got into feminism around the age of 18 or 19 years old, having grown up around domestic violence. This helped her to realize the importance of raising her voice about the challenges women face. She highlights the importance of being loud and standing for the issues, instead of keeping quiet and hoping for change. English became the chair of the Collective because feminism, women’s rights and ending violence against women are things she is very passionate about. She feels the commitment and work it takes to be the Chair is worth it, when you’re speaking for something that matters.

Take Back the Night is an international event which began in the early 1970’s. The march brings awareness to the violence women face and hope that uniting in a march can bring awareness. A key topic of these marches is the sexualized violence women (and men) face, and urges change in the system that portrays the victims of assault in negative ways instead of the offenders.

Take Back the Night began in Brandon University’s Kavanagh Courtyard. The event began with a smudging ceremony conducted by Barbara Blind, in which all those who gathered to march took part. The smudging was followed by a women’s drumming group led by Debbie Huntkinghawk. There were powerful speeches by Jenna English, Karen Peto and Jenna Wade that inspired a lot of emotion as these women shared both personal experiences, and wisdom with the group around them. With that Jenna English made the call to march, and picket signs held high, the group of about a hundred people began their walk.

The group consisted of women, men and children from all walks of life, including a number of Brandon University Students’ Union representatives (President Nick Brown contributed the photo above, and Accessibilities Coordinator Whitney Hodgins provided photos which can be seen online). As the march began, streets were blocked off for the marchers by police officers. The group walked toward Victoria Avenue, down Victoria Ave. to 9th Street, down 9th St. to Lorne Avenue, turned down Lorne Ave. to 8th Street, and ended at the Women’s Resource Center (731 Princess Avenue, inside the Town Centre). Those who participated mingled and enjoyed cookies and hot chocolate. It was a wonderful event that brought hope and strength in the realization that together we can fight for change.