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Newmarket’s Abuse Hurts joins agencies across region in readying for Take Back the Night

York Region groups are collaborating to host the online event Sept. 10

Newmarket’s Abuse Hurts is preparing for the annual Take Back the Night York Region, which is taking on a different form this year as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions continue. 

Instead of a march on the street against gender-based violence, agencies from across York Region are making videos of their own mini-marches that will be shown at the virtual event Sept. 10.

“We don’t stand for women being in violent situations. It’s really important for us to make sure that the awareness is out, and this is all about awareness,” Kaylee Strezov, program coordinator at Abuse Hurts, said. “We would like to educate the public and that’s how we do that, by participating in things like this.”

For their video, staff and volunteers from Abuse Hurts marched from their headquarters on Harry Walker Parkway and then continued walking along Main Street chanting “1-2-3-4 we won’t take it anymore, 5-6-7-8 stop the violence, stop the hate.” 

Their video will be edited with clips from the other participating agencies and shown together as part of the online event.

Take Back the Night York Region is a community effort as multiple organizations and volunteers have come together to form the planning committee. 

There are representatives from Yellow Brick House, CAYR Community Connections, Dnaagdawenmag Binoojiiyag Child & Family Services, York Regional Police and more. 

“What’s really cool about York Region’s Take Back the Night is you also have organizations that wouldn’t be recognized as a gender-based violence organization such as Markham Public Library,” said Jackie Benn-John, executive director of the Women’s Support Network of York Region, which is part of the organizing committee. 

She added the event demonstrates the intersectionality of these groups. 

As well as the video, the Sept. 10 event will feature live speakers, performances and vigils. 

Even though the pandemic has pushed them online, the message remains the same. 

“While it looks different, the essence of Take Back the Night is still there; showing that there’s community support, listening to survivors speak about their experiences and their dreams and their hopes, and also recognizing individuals that we’ve lost to gender-based violence, those who had their lives taken too early through the vigil,” said Shannon Seeraj, public education coordinator at Women’s Support Network.

The message of Take Back the Night is even more important this year, Benn-John said. 

“What we’ve seen in the last year and a half is an increase in rate of gender-based violence, including sexual assault, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic,” she said. “The message is so important this year because everyone still has a right to safety.”

You can register online to attend the free event.

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Elizabeth Keith

About the Author: Elizabeth Keith

Elizabeth Keith is a general assignment reporter. She graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2017. Elizabeth is passionate about telling local stories and creating community.
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