For the first time in the 30-year-history of the Take Back the Night march in Kamloops, men and women were called on to make the streets safer after dark.
When the annual event left The Grind Coffee House on Friday night, men walked alongside women.
The men and women who gathered for speeches and a snack before-hand were glad the two genders could finally march united in an effort to prevent violence against women.
“As a male partner, or any man in the community, we should also stand up to violence no matter who is responsible,” said Jim Laidlaw, one of about 10 men who took part.
Laidlaw joined a group of about 80 people outside The Grind prior to the march. They listened to a First Nations prayer and a couple of words by author Mckenzie Brown, who’s book Walking on Eggshells details a year spent in domestic abuse.
Men perform most of the violence in our society, he said. And one in three women are victims of the same.
“I think it takes men to stand up and say ‘stop’,” said Laidlaw. “It’s not just a woman’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem.”
Chris Pincott agreed. Although men were traditionally allowed to listen to the speeches at a Take Back the Night event, he never attended one before. He came out Friday specifically because he could march.
“I certainly feel it’s an issue women shouldn’t draw attention to alone. It’s an issue that should be shared between men and women,” said Pincott.
By allowing men to join, violence becomes a shared a responsibility and can be better addressed, he said.
Steve Latchford’s wife Megan brought him to the march so that he could join in. He said it’s vital that men take part and show not all men are predators.
Brown’s story painted a stark picture of a year spent enduring physical abuse at the hands of a man. But she sought help from the RCMP and a women’s shelter and now uses her story to raise awareness about violence against women.
She’s in Kamloops for two weeks working with the YMCA-YWCA Women’s Shelter. And Brown thanked her new husband for standing by her and helping tell her tale.
The Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre has hosted the march all the years it’s been in Kamloops. Agency co-ordinator Cynthia Davis said men were excluded as a symbolic gesture to help women reclaim the night — which is when they are most vulnerable.
But times have changed. And Davis said the truth is women are safer at night when they have a man with them.
“It’s just the ways of our world,” she said.
Take Back the Night began in San Francisco in 1979 as a response to male violence against women and children.