NEW GLASGOW — More than 60 people gathered on Saturday to officially dedicate Barb’s Bench in memory of Nova Scotian women who have died as a result of violent domestic relationships.
The bench is one of several being placed across the province and is located beside the New Glasgow Farmers Market, facing the East River. It is purple, the colour of choice for Barb’s Benches situated across Canada. It also has a small brass inscription and a message honouring women murdered by their partners and information for where people facing domestic violence can get help.
“It means a lot,” said Jan James, who co-chairs the Silent Witness Nova Scotia, Pictou County Chapter, with Donna MacGregor. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring awareness to domestic violence and for people in our communities to feel comfortable about getting help.”
MacGregor added: “It’s a positive thing coming out of something so negative.”
Barb’s Bench is named after Barbara Baillie from the Halifax area, who was killed by her husband in 1990. Members of the Baillie family from Spryfield were among those who attended the ceremony.
“I want people to be aware that it’s real,” said Baillie’s eldest daughter Denenia Dobbin, regarding domestic violence. “It makes it easier. Although my mother is not with us anymore, she is here and it gives us comfort.”
According to the Society for Silent Witness Nova Scotia, more than 50 Nova Scotian women have been murdered by their intimate partners since 1990, including four from Pictou County.
Plaques on stands contained biographies of Baillie and several other women who faced a similar fate, including Pictou County’s Beatrice “Honey” Marie Wright, who was 41 when she was found dead in September 1992.
Wright’s oldest son Bo and her youngest son Lester with his wife Rose, and her sister Jean Rector, were among those invited to sit together on the bench.
“It’s going to mean so much — it’s the best idea,” Rose said, referring to the bench.
“I’m happy the word’s getting out,” Lester said. “When it happened, there wasn’t much help. It means a lot to meet with families that have gone through it.”
“I’m glad I’m here to be part of it,” Bo said. “It’s good for both (the Wright and Baillie) families to come together.”
“It’s beautiful,” Rector said. “Purple is my favourite colour, always was. It’s another way to think about my sister.”
Among dignitaries who attended the ceremony were Rafah DiCostanzo, ministerial assistant to Kelly Regan, minister of Immigration and ministerial assistant to the minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act.
She was joined by New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks and local MLAs Karla MacFarlane, Pat Dunn and Tim Houston.
It was acknowledged that the site of the bench is on unceded Mi’kmaq ground.
From left: Lester Wright sits on Barb’s Bench with his wife Rose Wright and his brother Bo Wright. (Goodwin photo)