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Take Back the Night honors missing and murdered Indigenous women

“We all have a raging fire burning within us. Share your warmth and watch everything beautiful in the world thrive.”—Stephanie Harpe

By Paula E. Kirman
Windspeaker.com Contributor

Take Back the Night is a protest that calls for an end to gender-based and domestic violence. This year's event in Edmonton took place on Oct. 27, and included a cultural forum with an emphasis on missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Starting at the hall of Ironworkers Local 720, the event began with an acknowledgement of the land, and a blessing by an Elder.

“More and more women and all people are standing up and speaking up and that's our purpose when we're gathered here today, to show our collective resistance to violence against women and all forms of sexual assault and gender-based violence,” said organizer Merryn Edwards. “Our Take Back the Night March affirms our right as women to fully participate in our society and walk the streets day or night without fear.”

Musician and actress Stephanie Harpe spoke about her experiences with family trauma, including the murder of her mother in 1999 by a former intimate partner. And she spoke of her own survival of domestic violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction.

“You're never alone. If I can stand here before you and make my dreams come true, so can you,” she said of the successes she’s achieving as a performer and songwriter.

“We all have a raging fire burning within us. Share your warmth and watch everything beautiful in the world thrive.”

Dancer Sissy Thiessen had a red jingle dress made especially for the event, in honor of the Red Dress Project that commemorates murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. She danced to the drum of Chubby Cree, an all women’s drum group. (See our story on Chubby Cree here: http://www.windspeaker.com/news/windspeaker-news/men-only-by-tradition-women-cant-hit-the-big-drum/)

Connie LeGrande, a singer/songwriter from Wabasca, Alta led the audience in a new song she wrote about Take Back the Night.

“We're marching into the night/we'll look you straight in the eyes/we're taking back the night/from here we'll rise,” she sang.

Other speakers included Nancy Dodsworth, the president of Canadian Union of Postal Workers' Edmonton local, and Cynthia Palmaria of Migrante Alberta, an organization that advocates for foreign workers from the Philippines.

Following the speakers and cultural forum, marchers, mostly women and children, took to the roads around the 124 St. area. A program for men continued back at the Ironworker's Hall.

Take Back the Night is organized by Women for Rights and Empowerment, a new name for the same group that organizes the yearly International Women's Day march and forum.

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