Jeremy Yudin, Senior Reporter
More than 40 people marched in support of victims of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence in Humber’s fourth annual Take Back the Night event Thursday.
Yamikani Msosa, the Student Diversity and Inclusion Initiative Coordinator (BASE), said she’s been marching with Take Back the Night for 13 years.
“I can’t tell you how empowering it was as a survivor to be amongst other like-minded people who care and who believe in my story,” Msosa said.
The first Take Back the Night march to protest sexual violence in Canada was in 1980 in Vancouver, and in the following year the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres announced the third Friday in September as TBTN march day, according to the TBTN Foundation.
Statistics Canada said sexual assaults reported to police spiked after the #MeToo Movement began.
It reported an average of 74 sexual assault victims filed a report to Canadian police per day, up from 59 per day, between Jan. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017, the time span studied.
Before Humber’s march started, attendees were invited into the Barrett Centre for Technology for performances, including an Indigenous Drumming Ceremony.
The ceremony was in part a land acknowledgment announcement by the Aboriginal Resource Centre (ARC).
“As a settler, for me, it’s always important to reflect on the way that the land was taken without consent from Indigenous communities,” Msosa said.
Jaida Ponce, who performed in the Indigenous Drumming Ceremony, chanted an Anishanbwe song called “The Strong Woman’s Song.”
“To me, it’s a song of empowerment. It’s to spread strength and I feel like people will really understand it when they hear it,” she said.
Along with the performance, booths were set up by community partners who have experienced sexual violence and organizations that provide related services.
Resources from the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, Youth Without Shelter, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, and The Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services of Halton (SAVIS) were made available.
Humber Security and Peel Regional Police officers also joined the march.
“They’re supporting the event and sharing what their services have to offer all people in this area,” said Caitlin Feere, the Student Support and Intervention coordinator at Humber.
Jason Hunter, the vice-president of Student and Community Engagement, was pleased with the event overall.
“We are really fortunate to have the amazing leadership of so many of you who are here tonight, as organizers, as service providers, as volunteers, as performers, and as participants,” he said.
“As an educational institution, we are proud to take an active role and acknowledge our responsibility to being a part of ending sexual violence,” Hunter said.
“I want to thank you for doing all that you can and all you’re doing not only to take back the night, but to give the back night to those who don’t even know that it has been lost,” he said.