RED DEER UNITE - Meagan Gaalaas and her fellow second-year RDC social work students led a crowd in marching in the Take Back the Night event bringing awareness about sexual assault and victim blaming on March 29th. Michelle Falk/Lacombe Express

Red Deerians ‘unite’ against sexual assault

Take Back the Night march raises awareness

A crowd of around 70 people gathered in front of City Hall March 29th for ‘Take Back the Night’, a march advocating for awareness about sexual assault and victim blaming.

“There is something so moving and powerful about when people unite to ignite social change,” said Meagan Gaalaas, organizer and second-year social work student at Red Deer College.

The event began with the social work students sharing facts and myths about sexual assault.

“The reality is sexual assault is a devastating weapon used to dominate another person, it’s about power and control, not about lust or sexual desire,” Skylar Remple.

One survivor shared her story of being violently attacked by two co-workers when she was 18-years-old and the subsequent failure of the system to reprimand these rapists.

“I share my story to shed light on victim blaming and the trauma that it creates,” said Gaalaas.

Before beginning their march to Rotary Park, the group took a minute of silence to honour those who had lost their lives to sexual violence.

The chilly temperatures did not dissuade the group from enthusiastically marching, holding their signs high and chanting ‘Red Deer Unite, Take Back the Night!’

At Rotary Park marchers celebrated what they had accomplished and warmed up with hot coffee around a bonfire where there was also an opportunity for others to share their stories.

Remple said one of the important aspects of the event was to let victims know that they are not alone.

“As social workers, we see the importance of empowering communities and raising awareness about social injustice,” Gaalaas said.

The event was organized by five second-year social work students from RDC.

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