A crowd of 400 very enthusiastic people gathered at Fredericton City Hall, summoned by the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (FSACC) to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the city’s Take Back the Night walk in the province’s capital on Friday, Sept. 25th at 8pm.
The March was organized by volunteers coordinated by FSACC and publicized through social media sites. Participants were asked to bring lights to “Light the Night” and FSACC had a number of glow sticks for participants. This year’s turnout –the strongest ever, according to organizers- included men, women and children of all ages.
The annual walk allows women and children to take to the streets without fear to remind the public of the dangerous conditions that prevail in most cities and areas where women dread unwanted attention, harassment and sexual violence when alone on the streets. To that end, only (trans/cis) women and children were asked to march.
A crowd started gathering as early as 7pm at City Hall with an assortment of banners and signs denouncing sexual violence and sexism: “Too drunk to say no is too drunk to say yes” and “Women are people, not objects.”
Jennifer Richard, the Director of Community Development for FSACC, welcomed the rowdy crowd and detailed the plan for the March. Once the marchers were off, they heartily chanted various slogans such as “What do we want? Security! When do we want it? Now!,” “No more silence! No more violence!” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! The patriarchy as got to go”.
The planned route led the March down Queen Street, up York Street, down George Street and down Regent Street back to Queen Street. The procession was met with cheers, claps and honks of support throughout the route.
White Ribbon Fredericton was also asked to lead a discussion for the remaining people on how to get involved in ending sexual violence and what had brought them out to the March.
White Ribbon Fredericton is a local group that engages men to end male violence against all women.
Upon arriving back at City Hall, the groups reunited and two speakers shared touching personal stories sent in by participants of all ages about the impact that the Take Back the Night march has had on their lives.
FSACC runs a number of essential programs in New Brunswick including its Volunteer Crisis Intervention Program, which is unique in the province. A 24 hour, seven days a week phone line (506-454-0437), is available for people who have been affected by sexual violence.
An event created to encourage people’s right to feel protected from sexual violence, Take Back the Night has existed since the seventies in North America and marches now take place all over the world every year. In Fredericton, various progressive organizations were supportive of the March, including Cinema Politica Fredericton and the UNB/STU University Women’s Centre, among others.