This Friday, the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre (FSAC) will host in Take Back the Night, an annual march that protests against gender-based violence.
It’s the 32nd year that the centre has participated in the international event.
“This event is to give women a voice to come together … and to support one another,” said Pamela Young, a volunteer at the Sexual Assault Centre.
The theme of this year’s march is #HerStoryOurStory, which was done to capitalize on the idea that although every encounter with gender-based violence is unique to the individual, it is a societal issue that all women experience to some extent.
Megan Groves, chair of the UNB/STU Women’s Centre, said the Women’s Centre loved this year’s theme because of its emphasis on the collective experience, rather than just the experience of the individual.
“We’re trying to encourage students that they’re not alone and that they can experience these things as a group—and that there’s people there that are going to listen to them, and there’s resources that we have to provide them with,” said Groves.
The event’s name—Take Back the Night—is inspired by the shared fear many young women feel when they walk alone at night. It is a fear that both Groves and Young have felt before.
“I walk home alone at night and like, I’ve been followed home three times since starting university, and I only had a five-minute walk. So me, as a university student, I fear. And I know I’m not alone,” said Groves, whose sentiments Young echoed.
“I know when I was younger—and even a little bit now—if I was walking at night, I would hold my keys in my hand or something like that because I thought that would keep me safe,” Young said.
Both women have attended the event in previous years and spoke of the protest as an empowering experience.
“I started out almost at the back of the group at the march, and by the end I was up at the front just screaming my little heart out. I loved it and it made me feel so good—like I’m not alone,” Groves said.
Only women, children and those who identify as non-binary may participate in the march, while men are not allowed to march. Young explained that this is due to the gendered nature of sexual violence, as well as to give women an opportunity to stand in solidarity against the issue.
“The men that come are always welcome as well, but we do a separate event for them,” said Young.
The Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre has partnered with the White Ribbon Society—as it has in past years—to hold an allies discussion for men in front of City Hall while the women march.
The event will conclude with a performance by the Pokuhulakon Witsehkehsu (Sisters of the Drum) from the St. Mary’s First Nation, which everyone is welcome to attend.
An all-female drumming group, the Pokuhulakon Witsehkehsu performed at the event last year.
“It was just uplifting … People were more energized and it was a more positive experience,” said Young.
Take Back the Night will start outside City Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday evening.