"It's Time For Revolution": Take Back The Night Women's March

The Take Back the Night event took place in London’s Victoria Park on Thursday, September 26th, bringing in hundreds of women, male allies and many others to protest and take a stand for women’s issues and women’s rights. Take Back the Night is an annual march and rally held around the world, which protests and fights against sexual and gender-based violence. London’s Take Back the Night was organized by the Women’s Education Committee and it was centered around missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people—a cause that I am incredibly passionate about. 

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The event began at the entrance of Victoria Park in London, Ontario with a lovely gathering of protest sign-making activity tables, live music and community booths like Anova and Women & Politics. After the gathering portion of the night, the rally began. The rally included musicians performing traditional Indigenous songs as well as Indigenous women who presented on a variety of topics, including human trafficking, police negligence and brutality and missing and murdered Indigenous women.   

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The first speaker of the night was Awasis, a two-spirit indigenous writer and spoken word artist with pronouns they/them. It was clear that they had a fire in their heart when they angrily explained how ridiculous London and Canada’s police system is towards oppressing specifically Indigenous women.  They also performed a powerful and inspiring slam poem for the hundreds of people watching. 

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Awasis’ slam poem talked about revolution and oppression.  “It’s time for revolution,” their poem began. “Down with white supremacy, hate crimes against LGBT. Down with racism, ableism, capitalist systems of property. We’re far better than this.” 

There was a section in their poem where they said, “You are an empress, never settle for less,” and then the audience would collectively shoot their tight fists in the air to say, “If one of us ain’t free… All of us are oppressed.” Awasis had passion, fire and stood their ground on issues they believed in. They wanted change in the world and after listening to their passionate poem, I wanted change too. 

The next speaker was Elyssa Rose, an Atlohsa Family Healing Services worker who presented the crowd with some horrifying statistics about human trafficking. Rose explained not only the fact that “every thirty seconds someone becomes a victim to human trafficking,” but also that “4% of the Canadian female population is Indigenous,” and yet Indigenous women “account for over 50% of those being trafficked here in Canada.” People were screaming out “shame,” a term used throughout the rally to express disappointment and frustration with injustice in this nation. After sharing those statistics with the crowd, Rose also highlighted the many difficult circumstances Indigenous women face that make them vulnerable to human trafficking. “We are not for sale,” Rose said passionately. “Say it with me, we are not for sale,” she repeated, causing the massive sea of people to repeat those five powerful words back to her.    

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One of the next speakers after Elyssa Rose was Samantha Whiteye who discussed the tragic issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. To start her speech, she asked the crowd to visualize having a nice time with the youngest girl in their family and then imagining one day that she had disappeared. 

“I am here to remind you and keep reminding you of our missing women. I am here to give them a voice,” Whiteye explained. “Nearly every day on my social media, I see another poster picture or call for help in locating another one of our Indigenous sisters.”

Samantha Whiteye shared a short story with the crowd about missing and murdered women which caused her to choke up and cry, and many of the other women in the audience including myself cried along with her. Near the end of her speech, Samantha Whiteye said something very powerful and inspiring: “I speak the truth of my Indigenous sisters when I say we cannot allow this to keep happening. We can also not allow the media to continue the narrative that we are disposable. We are never disposable. Our lives matter. They have weight. They have value.” 

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After the emotional rally, the Take Back the Night march began. Women of all races, ages and abilities walked (or took the bus) in unity within London’s downtown square, holding big signs and screaming out powerful chants: “Stop the violence, no more silence,” and “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. The patriarchy has got to go,” and “Yes means yes and no means no. Whatever we wear, wherever we go.” At that moment, many of the girls and women in that march, including myself who were taking back the night felt strong, brave and powerful.

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All women, but especially Indigenous women, face many challenges in their lives. Take Back the Night is an inclusive and supportive event that allows women from all backgrounds to come together and protest against gender-based violence and gender inequality. It is incredible that Take Back the Night made this year’s theme the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirited people because it provided the London community with more awareness of the issues Indigenous women face and how important it is to take action and make a change. Whether it is listening to the powerful speeches at the rally or shouting for justice in the London streets, Take Back the Night is an inspiring event that provides all women to come together and fight for what they believe in. 

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