In what has become a growing annual event, dozens of people in Greater Sudbury took to the streets Friday for a march in support of girls and women who have been victims of violence.
V-DAY, as the event is known, began as an event linked to the Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler that has been read by a host of celebrities in events each year to raise awareness of the issue.
Crystal Kimewon, a third-year Indigenous Social Work student at Laurentian University, said the march is a way to remember women who have suffered at the hands of others.
“It's to honour missing and murdered women who have a familiarity with violence – or who are enduring violence,” Kimewon said, standing outside the N'Swakmok Native Friendship Centre on Elm Street early Friday evening. “Today was about empowering women.”
In Canada, First Nations women were among the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton. The B.C. pig farmer was able to kill dozens of his victims because they were marginalized, activists say. An inquiry in that province is examining whether police failed to pursue the cases because of the backgrounds of the victims.
Kimewon said it's vital society learn the lessons from such cases.
“It's important to honour missing and murdered woman,” she said. “An as Anishinabe, we believe women are the strongholds of the nation. We place them in high regard and it's important that we pay tribute to them.”
Friday's Sudbury event began with a closed gathering for women only from 2-4 p.m. Men were allowed in at 4 p.m. and were able to join the 5 p.m. march.
The V-Day movement began in 1998 by Ensler, who has said that it was women's reactions to the play that launched V-Day, which now includes 1,500 events held across the world each Feb. 14.
According to the website vday.org, in societies where the Vagina Monologues is not permitted, V-Day events revolve around other works and writings about violence against women.
V-Day demands include an end to “rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation and sexual slavery.
“Women should spend their lives creating and thriving rather than surviving or recovering from terrible atrocities,” the website says.