File photo.

Red Deer College students host event for survivors of sexual assault

Take Back the Night aims to ‘shatter the silence and stop the violence’

Red Deer Unite, a group of second year Red Deer College Social Work students, is hosting Take Back the Night, a march and celebration supporting survivors of sexual assault on March 29th.

Heidi Coltman, Meagan Gaalaas, Skylar Remple, Shentel Kerr and Jade Fleury were required to put on an event as part of their course work, but Take Back the Night is much more than an assignment for the group whose members are passionate about raising awareness about sexual violence and stopping victim blaming.

“It is a really relevant topic and it’s a sensitive issue,” said Gaalass. “As social workers, we believe it’s important to discuss sensitive topics.”

Coltman, Gaalass and Remple are open about being survivors themselves. They said they are pursuing a career in social work to change the systems that failed them in their time of need.

As passionate as they are each organizer shares her experience at the cost of reliving the trauma. They do it because they believe there is value in sharing the experience if it can help others.

“There is something so powerful about bringing community together, to show that we support each other, to provide information about resources and to show survivors that there are other people out there and they are not alone,” said Gaalaas.

Red Deer Unite has partnered with the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre and the Central Alberta Vision for Non-Violence. The organizers expect at least 100 people to come out to the event.

They have also partnered with the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre.

Take Back the Night will begin with an opening ceremony at City Hall. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Participants will then march from there to Rotary Park. At the end of the march they will hold a candlelit vigil, including a moment of silence to recognize what has been lost. A closing celebration will take place at Rotary Park with refreshments and survivors’ stories.

The organizers encourage participants to wear purple to show their support.

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