Brenda Roberts held a wooden stick hoisting a sign in the air that read ‘walking in solidarity’ as she paced proudly down Central Ave.
To her side were a handful of men and women, young and old, who bore signs expressing empowering messages in support of women stepping forward and seeking refuge from the plight of abuse. It was part of a walk to launch the Silent No More social media campaign, a movement aimed to support women claiming their voice.
For Roberts, this message rang close to home as she is a victim to the cause, growing up in a household plagued with violence.
Now with a daughter of her own, Roberts preached a simple message: “To prevent violence, you have to teach a life of non-violence.”
“I am trying to encourage other women and girls to live that way, without violence,” she said while warming after the walk Saturday at a downtown cafe over a cup of hot chocolate.
Roberts was pessimistic when asked if her thoughts on the state of abuse and violence heading forward. It brought her pain to see a number of young men and women still coming into a world where boys are still often raised and taught violence.
“Being violent or using violence to be the higher power, a stronger person, they figure that is the way to get things done,” she said. “Instead, they need to have a home of balance.”
In these homes is where she believed authorities and governments were falling short in remedying the situation.
“Instead of going out and hitting the broader aspect of it, they have got to individualize the responsibility of males in the home…to teach men to teach their sons not to be violent and to teach women they don’t have to [take the violence].”
Roberts believed a changing society that sees children locked to electronic devices as opposed to playing physically and engaging in personal interaction with peers contributed in part to the epidemic.
The issue of abuse is never too far from home in Prince Albert, as the city boasts one of the highest rates per capita for violence against women.
These statistics, alongside her own experience of abuse, are what spurred Patricia Crowe to coordinate the walk. It was inspired in part by a call to reclaim sacredness from Metis artist and songwriter Andrea Menard. Crowe is also a co-founder of the Rise UP Against Abuse initiative and has worked extensively with families on the subject and participated on the commission examining the systemic dilemma involving missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW).
“[This is] a way for women to bring forward their issues on abuse and violence,” she said. “We want to encourage women not to be victims any longer. We have reclaimed ourselves in terms of our sacredness.”
The Silent No More Walk coincided with a day of international women’s marches across the globe. To all this, Crowe said there are many “beautiful things about women finding their power.”
“As a unified, solidified group, our voices are stronger together.”
With a growing wave of outcry and outreach from women who are trapped in violent situations or face sexual abuse, Crowe said, while the statistics are never going to change for her, everyone has a role and opportunity to change the pace for future generations.
She said anything women can do in terms of empowering themselves and making healthier choices will affect children and the world in which they will grow up.
“I have two daughters and three granddaughters and we have to remember that we are mothers and grandmothers and as a community, we have to take care of one another,” Crowe said. “We are all brothers and sisters and we have to start looking out for one another.”
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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