No Means No: Waterloo Region Takes Back the Night

“What do we want? Safe Streets! When do we want them? NOW!” Chants like this and others could be heard from a distance as Waterloo Region held their 31st annual Take Back the Night rally and march on Thursday, September 27th. Over 300 people showed up to the event, including many Laurier students!

The members of Laurier’s Centre for Women and Trans* People and Not My Laurier met up before the event started to bus down to Kitchener together, and I was very happy to have the chance to get involved. Take Back The Night is an annual event that addresses the rights of women trans people to be safe from violence of any sort on the streets and in their communities. Sexual assault is a major issue worldwide, and it’s also very prevalent in Waterloo. Though sexual assault reports have gone down, over 400 calls were made to Waterloo Regional Police in 2013. That’s more than one call per day for a whole year. And don’t forget that only about 8% of sexual assault cases get reported to police, making sexual assault one of the least likely to be reported crimes. It’s clearly time to take action and lower these numbers ASAP!

Before the March

We arrived in front of City Hall at around 6 pm as the event was beginning. There were already many large groups of people, all heads turned to the main stage, where different people were performing. There were various singers, as well as an all-female drumming group from Kitchener. Later, speeches were made by Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) and Male Allies Against Sexual Violence (MAASV). Blow horns and sheets with chants were given out as those participating were getting ready to go!

During the March

The march itself was an incredibly moving event. We were a large group of people weaving our way through the streets in Kitchener, shouting, chanting, marching. I got my chance at using the blow horn and leading some of the chants, which was a really cool experience. We were a loud crowd, and there were a lot of people standing outside shops and houses watching us walk down the street. The march lasted close to an hour and by the time we got back to City Hall, I felt extremely exhilarated and quite emotional.

After the March

 

After the march, everyone who participated piled into City Hall for food, drinks and to visit the many information booths from various groups that were situated around the area. Some of these included Planned Parenthood, Waterloo’s Spectrum Rainbow Centre, and our very own Centre for Women and Trans* People! Many of us chatted with people from various organizations and groups before heading back to Laurier.

Events like Take Back the Night are great ways to raise awareness within your community about pressing issues such as sexual assault. They’re also a great way to meet and connect with new people who are passionate about bringing these issues into light, and participate in what may be a new experience for you. This event happens annually, so make sure to come out next year!