Men and women of all ages came together for the second annual Not So Silent Vigil on Dec. 6, The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. This date is also the anniversary of the murders of 13 female students of l’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal.
Co-ordinator Donna MacGregor was inspired to organize the event in New Glasgow after an empowering and emotional experience at the Not So Silent Vigil in Halifax.
“With so many talented women in Pictou County, I thought that an event like this would be a perfect fit,” she explained. “I really wanted to keep the grass roots vibe of the Halifax vigil while at the same time being conscious of the fact that many women live in poverty and often don’t have access to transportation. I wanted our vigil to be accessible to everyone.”
The event, held at 135 Provost St., began with a moment of silence, followed by the lighting of three candles. The first, to remember those women who have lost their lives to violence; the second, to acknowledge there are still women suffering from violence; and the third, to extend hope for gender equality.
The question of why women stay in situations and relationships where they suffer violence is one asked often. MacGregor explained that there are countless reasons why women feel they cannot leave.
“They stay for their children, they worry about their financial stability, they would be homeless if they left, they worry how they would get to work,” she listed. “And, of course, some are terrified to speak to someone.”
MacGregor also spoke passionately of current educational efforts, and the need to do better. “There must be better education in schools about violence against women. There must be more organizations that go into schools and talk to students. We have to have conversations around our tables and in coffee shops, because we cannot stay silent.”
Her passion for this cause while emceeing the event was as luminous as the Christmas décor on the walls and went ablaze as she read a self-written story titled Butterfly Kaleidoscope which ended in a standing ovation from a somber crowd.
The evening featured powerful poetry readings, musical performances, tears, and the overwhelming feeling of empowerment as women came together for the same reason: to break the silence.
“Abuse comes in many forms,” explained MacGregor. “It can be physical, emotional, verbal or mental. It can look like stalking, belittling, withholding finances, and so much more. Women suffering must be lifted and inspired.”
If you or a woman you know is suffering within a violent relationship, there are many local resources available. Information is available online for the following organizations: Tearmann House, The Pictou County Women’s Resource and Sexual Assault Centre, Neighbors, Friends and Family and The Pictou County Chapter of Silent Witness NS.
Dawn Peters passionately recites the poem ‘And Yet We Rise’ during the Not So Silent Vigil held in New Glasgow, in recognition of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. (McLean photo)