By Lawrence Loiseau
The annual Take Back the Night continues to grow in scope every year, said Susann Collins, 100 Mile House & District Women’s Centre Society executive director.
“It’s getting bigger every year. It’s grown from being exclusively about violence against women to being about fighting violence against everyone.
“It’s also the second year with the full dinner of pizza and salad. It’s a real community event now.”
Hosted at the 100 Mile House Community Hall on Nov. 2, this year’s event started at 4 p.m. and included the traditional walk through downtown, dinner, silent auction and the candlelight vigil at the end.
There were many heartfelt and reflective speeches offered by a variety of guest speakers.
Special guests who spoke at this year’s Take Back the Night event included Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond, Mayor Mitch Campsall and Canim Lake Band Chief Mike Archie.
Guest speaker, Esk’et (Alkali Lake) Elder Margaret Gilbert, held everyone riveted when she spoke in depth about her experience in the residential schooling system.
Gilbert said she endured beatings with sawmill belts for speaking in her own language or for refusing to follow demands of the instructors and the Nuns.
She also suffered emotional abuse on a daily basis.
Her 20-minute speech was so filled with details and awful images it caused some people to shed tears.
During the concluding candlelight ceremony, everyone formed a circle and held hands.
At that point, every attendee was given the opportunity to speak about their own experiences of violence, about loved ones who suffered from violence or about loved ones who had passed away due to violence.
Some spoke just a few words; others spoke at length; but all spoke with sadness and emotion in their voices.
Historically, Take Back the Night began in the 1970s. It is a non-profit organization and an international event now, which is held annually in more than 30 countries.
“The event has two purposes: education and raising money,” said Collins.
“It’s a chance for men, women and children to come together and unite to end violence. The first Take Back the Night event in 100 Mile House was held in 1996.”
Since this year’s candlelight ceremony took place indoors, electric candles were substituted for real candles to adhere to fire regulations.
The silent auction raised $3,000 for the Women’s Centre, Collins notes.
“On behalf of the Women’s Centre, I would like to thank everyone very much who supported the event.”