10 block march returns to Calgary streets

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Women and men reclaim the Beltline streets and sidewalks on Sept. 19, marching 10 blocks without fear of abuse, assault, or rape in the evening, a time that’s been a source of terror for many victims of gender-based violence.

Take Back the Night’s annual protest, which started at 8 p.m, celebrates the issue of resistance and creates a platform where indigenous women, women of colour, and Caucasian women can voice their experiences, fears and hopes for the future.

Autumn EagleSpeaker, active in Idle No More Calgary and manager of the Iyahrhe Nakoda Foodbank Society, addressed and analyzed the current topic of violence against aboriginal women and solutions for how indigenous women can reach economic, social, gender and racial parity within Canada.

 “The outright assault on indigenous children throughout the Residential School era has its cyclical effects on generations still felt today,” says EagleSpeaker. “These Residential Schools did not civilize the child. Instead they taught white colonialism and conquest, sexual assault, battery, rape, torture, murder, molestation. These were foreign concepts to indigenous peoples. Indigenous women were revered in society.”

The night concluded with EagleSpeaker taking the podium once again for the “speak-out”, where survivors and allies break the silence by sharing reasons for attending Take Back the Night. EagleSpeaker spoke of her family’s secrets and subsequent consequences for concealing sexual assault. A victim of this heinous crime at the hands of a family member, EagleSpeaker said her perpetrator only served three months in prison, a third of his sentence.

Gender-based violence is an important issue, but justice for First Nations victims of these crimes is another issue of equal importance that Take Back the Night tries to address.

This emotionally charged evening unearthed complex issues while participants stood in solidarity with each other, for loved ones — grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters — and for others because of their personal experience with violence. Regardless of the motivation for marching against this issue, Take Back the Night is a personal event that leaves many in tears, applauding a woman’s strength to stand up against the abuse, and shaming these horrific acts in unison.

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