Mayor Lori Ackerman kicked the evening off at the North Peace Cultural Centre by expressing to the crowd the importance of the community coming together in support of the event.
"We really need to get the word out," she argues. "We really need to make sure everyone in our community is fully aware of the impact of violence, whether it is against women, whether it is against children, men. Irregardless, violence, it does not have a place in our society. Those who believe that it does, we need to educate them."
The march itself was different from years past, as at various points throughout the walk, the group stopped to listen to various women from the community. Some told their stories of getting away from abusive relationships, or overcoming sexual assault, while a representative from the North Peace Community Resources Society explained what women in domestic violence situations want the public to know, and a local reporter spoke about the media's role in stopping violence against women. Those moments were both emotional and educational.
Chanting mantras like "No more silence! No more violence", the crowd made their way past the Condill Hotel and the location on 100 Street where a woman was recently assaulted, to reflect on the changes society needs to make so our community feels safe at night.
The group returned to the Cultural Centre for a performance by Twin Peaks, and the launch of a new initiative in the city aiming to tackle the problem of violence against women in Fort St. John. Spearheaded by Clarice Eckford, the Peace Project is a community based plan that will involve surveying the community and conducting focus groups to create a plan for the community.
"What it will do is give the community a venue to take action that is local, that is an actual project that is happening in the community," explains Eckford. "It's community based and it's about the community coming together and creating a plan, a vision that includes initiatives that will help to reduce or end violence against women."
The project is scheduled to take three years. To take part, visit thepeaceprojectfsj.com.
For more photos of the walk, click below: