On Oct. 13, women and women-identified folk took to the streets of Hamilton in support of survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence during the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area’s annual march, Take Back the Night.
The march aims to encourage women and women-identified folk to reclaim their right to safety. Due to the nature of the march, SACHA requested only women and women-identified folk take part in the march, and encouraged male allies to participate by congregating in Gore Park and cheering there.
The march began at Hamilton City Hall and looped around King Street. Women took over the streets for the night, marching, drumming, and dancing while carrying signs bearing slogans such as “stop the violence” and “break the silence”.
In order to maintain accessibility, SACHA also offered an HSR and DARTS bus for those who were not able to march, in an effort to keep the event accessible for as many people as possible.
Despite occurring during McMaster’s Reading Week, many students still attended to support SACHA, both as volunteers and as marchers.
“Every time I turned around to look at the people marching behind me I had an overwhelming view of so many amazing and inspiring signs and people and artwork, it was amazing,” said Monica Sadri-Gerrior, a second-year Biology and Psychology student.
“I can honestly say I was blown away by the energy folks brought to the walk, and how much solidarity I could feel from women, but also non-binary folks, and the male allies that came out to support us,” said Lainey Stirling, a fourth-year Health Sciences student and Coordinator of the Women and Gender Equity Network who attended the march.
While WGEN has no official affiliation with the march, the service consistently supports SACHA during the march.
“People ask me why we don’t have a [Take Back the Night] every year run by WGEN. I think what SACHA’s doing right now in Hamilton is an amazing way to bring students and the community together and they are doing an amazing job,” said Stirling.
“One of my favourite parts of the march was also seeing some of the men with signs cheering us from the sidewalks, it was really heartwarming,” said Sadri-Gerrior.
Stirling expressed the importance of male allies at events such as these.
“I think it’s important for male allies and allies to the campus sexual assault issue realize that folks in the march see you cheering on from the sides,” said Stirling. “Your role to be there for the women and non-binary folks in your communities, even if you’re not marching.”
While Take Back the Night is over, those who need support can access SACHA by visiting their headquarters at 75 MacNab St. South, or call their 24-hour support hotline at (905)-525-4162.