P.A. joins in march to end violence against women

Jodi Schellenberg
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Violence against women is a problem not just in Prince Albert, but around the world.

On Friday a silent march was held at the Gateway Mall in remembrance of all women who have been lost due to violence against their gender.

“We have gathered here today in remembrance,” organizer Sandy Pitzel said. “It is a national day for remembrance and elimination of violence against women.”

It was the anniversary of 14 women being killed at École Polytechnic in Quebec in 1989 for nothing more than being women.

“In Ottawa at the Peace Tower, they have their flag flying at half mast,” Pitzel said. “In Dec. 6 1989, there were 14 women who were sought out and killed by a man who ended up killing himself at the end. He sought out 14 women at École Polytechnic, engineering students, because they were women.”

Violence against women is a problem across the country, Pitzel said.

“Whether poor, rich, whatever culture you are, it doesn’t matter -- domestic violence affects one of every four women and so that is why we are gathered here today,” Pitzel said.

It is hard to imagine being a family member of someone who has been killed due to violence against women, Métis Elder Julie Pitzel said.

“Our feelings go out to those people who never got to watch their children graduate, get married and have children,” Julie Pitzel said. “That is a very sad feeling. I thank you for being here because of that. When I pray I hope that you think of someone who has been missing and hurt in a domestic violence situation.”

In addition to a silent march, those gathered also donned white ribbons.

“The white ribbon we have on was an initiative called the White Ribbon Campaign,” Sandy Pitzel said. “It was men who started this campaign and it is an international initiative. Men, and they recruited young boys as well, spoke to the issue of ending violence against women and do fundraising and different awareness event across the world to eliminate violence against women.”

The initiative is men and women working together to end violence against women, she said.

“As a Métis person, that is something we really respect is men and women working together, side-by-side to try to create healthy communities,” Pitzel said.

Richard Ahenakew, chair of the Prince Albert Police board, said he doesn’t understand where the violence against women comes from.

“As a First Nations person, raised by a bevy of strong women, I know how important women are in the lives of us men,” Ahenakew said. “Sometimes I wonder why we treat our women the way that we do when we should be more respectful and pay more attention to the work they do, the importance they hold in our family and the strength and power as spiritual beings they have.”

The event is an important one in all communities and especially in Prince Albert, which has been declared a violence-free community.

“On behalf of Mayor Dionne and my fellow councillors we are here again to speak to our community that we are a violent free community and we are proud of that but we are not free of violence,” Coun. Rick Orr said. “This awareness that we are here to show is only one day out of the whole year. We need to think about it all year long.”

Of those walking, Orr was one of 14 people carrying signs in remembrance of those killed in Quebec.

“The (sign) I have with me today speaks to the 14 women that lives were cut short due to one person’s decision that they didn’t like women,” Orr said. “Anne Marie Edwards, a student who was 21 years old and life was taken is one of the reasons I am here today.”

On the other side of the sign, Saskatchewan women who have lost their lives were named.

“But more than that, I am here because of the awareness,” Orr added. “This is what it is all about. These are Saskatchewan wives and children, mothers and daughters and we need to be aware that violence is not acceptable.

“I am hoping in all my heart, especially at this time of year, that you can join us on this walk and silently remember the people you know about and remember to take this message forward that we in Prince Albert, believe in a violence free community.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Prince Albert Police board, First Nations

Geographic location: Quebec, Ottawa, Saskatchewan

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