Kamloops women for the first time joined an international movement to unite people of different race and gender against violence against women.
Among the more than 40 women who rallied on the Overlander Bridge on International Women’s Day was Minnie Kenoras. Her daughter was killed in a murder-suicide on the Neskonlith Indian Reserve during the 1990s.
Kenoras still lives in the home where her daughter, Julia Manuel, was shot and walks down the hallway where it happened, she said.
“I wanted to get rid of that house. I wanted to burn it down,” she said. “But my grandson, who was four years old at the time, he is a very strong boy.
“He said, ‘This is Mommy’s house. We can’t burn it down’,” said Kenoras.
And she didn’t. Instead, Kenoras prayed, cried and talked about what happened with others, she said. She allowed herself to get strong.
“We are very spiritual. Her spirit still lives with us,” said Kenoras.
Now she travels to events like Join Me on the Bridge and tells her story. Kenoras has even travelled across Canada.
Everyone must work together to prevent what happened to her daughter from happening to anyone else, she said. Her experience taught her that drugs and alcohol play a big role in violence against women.
“We have to help each other as one people,” she said.
Kamloops Sexual Assault Centre co-ordinator Cynthia Davis expected 100 women to rally on the bridge Friday afternoon. They carried signs and waved at motorists, who honked in return. Some brought their children.
Women worldwide have gathered on bridges every International Women’s Day since 2005. She said the event is all-inclusive.
“You care about everyone’s safety,” she said.
Meanwhile, the head of the U.N. women’s agency says 50 governments and the European Commission have pledged to take concrete action to end violence against women.
Michelle Bachelet told a commemoration of International Women’s Day at U.N. headquarters Friday that governments including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, Liberia, Thailand, Slovakia and South Korea have made commitments to combat rape, beatings and other abuse of women.
She also welcomed the “good news” from the United States that President Barack Obama has signed the Violence against Women Act.
Bachelet called for more robust action and commitments to ensure the protection of the rights of women and girls to live in dignity, free of violence and discrimination.