Last Thursday, Smithers residents marched down Main St. to Take Back The Night (TBTN). The Northern Society for Domestic Peace (NDSP) hosted the event and offered free hot chocolate, donuts, and educational resources to raise awareness about violence against women.
Take Back The Night began in the 1970s, as a movement of solidarity with women who felt unsafe walking alone at night, explained NSDP sexual assault coordinator Airika Owen.
“It’s important to mention that, over the years, this event has expanded to include anyone who identifies as feminine or female,” said Owen.
Since the movement’s initial start, participants developed creative approaches to attract media attention, explained NSDP through a series of plaques detailing historical events. In 1972, women wore black capes and carried witches’ brooms to advocate for the safety of female students on the University of Southern Florida Campus. In the 1990s, female rock bands held concerts as a “feisty rally” to enact change.
“The feminine experience still very much experiences feeling unsafe in certain situations and needing to take extra protocols to feel safe, to protect ourselves and our bodies,” explained Owen.
At this year’s TBTN in Smithers, residents carried decorated paper lanterns. Lanterns were provided, in advance, by the NSDP. Adults and children who attended the family-friendly event took the opportunity to put their artistic skills to work.
Many attendees painted their lanterns red, in support of the Red Dress Day movement that honours Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.
The march began on the corner of Main St. and Highway 16 and along the “Highway of Tears.” The stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert is dubbed as such due to the high number of Indigenous women reported missing from the area.
Attendees marched from Highway 16 down Main Street, where several vehicles honked. They turned around at Alfred Avenue before marching back down Main Street.
“Indigenous women, racialized minority women, LGBTQ members all experience violence at a higher rate than other women,” said Owen. “So please let’s look out for each other and look out for our communities to keep it safe, day and night.”
NSDP offers a variety of services for women experiencing violence, including counselling and crisis response services. The non-profit also offers various educational programs and outreach events, such as the TBTN march.