Swift Current residents will be taking a stand against sexual violence during a Take Back the Night march in the city on Friday night, July 17.
The march was organized at a gathering of around 50 concerned residents who came together on the grassy area next to the Swift Current Branch Library on Wednesday evening, July 14.
This planning meeting for a Take Back the Night march was arranged by Andrea McCrimmon, Courtney Stewart and Anika Henderson in response to concerns raised by local residents through social media about assaults on young women in the vicinity of the Chinook Parkway.
“There were a lot of rumours going on around town about sexual assaults and we didn't really have any facts and a lot of people were feeling really nervous and unsafe,” Stewart said during a media interview after the planning meeting.
The Swift Current RCMP has confirmed to the Prairie Post that it is currently investigating an assault that occurred between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on June 29 along the Chinook Parkway at the underpass over 13th Avenue NE by the skateboard park.
McCrimmon referred to another attempted assault on a woman that happened in the city at around 1:30 a.m. on May 24. This incident took place while the victim was walking home along Central Avenue South. She was body checked and slammed to the pavement by a male attacker. She fought him off and ran home, and reported the attack to the police.
“I reached out to a woman, who I saw on a Facebook comment that she was attacked, and she was sharing that fact,” she said. “And so I reached out to her to find out more. And then she told me her story and said we should organize an event. She was the catalyst for us organizing this tonight.”
For McCrimmon the need for the event was clearly highlighted by the concerns that were raised by people about such attacks happening in the community.
“So I feel like the two attacks that we know about are very concerning,” she said. “We know that 91 per cent of rapes do not get reported to the police. So we decided to hold this community event to try and figure out what is actually happening, based on these rumours, Are they true, are they not true, and obviously at least two of them are true, which we discovered just by doing this organizing.”
People raised various issues during the planning meeting. There were concerns about lighting and dense vegetation along the Chinook Parkway. Individuals expressed frustration about the lack of information provided by police about such incidents that happen in the community. They felt it was a safety issue and authorities need to make residents aware when such assaults happen.
Someone felt it is necessary to break the culture of silence, and suggestions were made that people should speak up and make their voices heard by contacting authorities and asking for information.
“I hope that both the police and the City of Swift Current will be more forthcoming with information when they have it, especially information that could keep us safe,” Stewart said about those suggestions that were made during the meeting.
She was encouraged by the turnout at the meeting and with the way the meeting went. She is also excited about the upcoming Take Back the Night march.
“I think that will be a good way for people to join in and support one another,” she said. “And we're also going to form a Facebook group where people can come and talk and exchange stories and support.”
Take Back the Night events have taken place in over 800 communities in more than 36 countries since 2001 to call for an end to all forms of sexual violence and to promote the need for safe communities where everyone can walk at night in their community without fear.
“Take Back the Night is a global organization and there are marches and events held all over the world,” Stewart said. “I think the idea is that the onus shouldn't be on a woman to prevent herself from getting raped. She should be able to walk, she should be able to wear what she wants and feel safe. It's not a woman's responsibility not to get raped. It's men's responsibility not to rape.”
The Take Back the Night march in Swift Current will take place on July 17 at 9 p.m. The march will start at Ashley Park community hall and proceed along the Chinook Parkway. Participants are requested to wear masks.