Over 70 members of the Fredericton community came together on Oct. 4 to show their support for survivors of gender-based violence. They marched with a white ribbon pinned to their chests as a pledge to never commit, condone or stay silent about violence against women.
The White Ribbon foundation aims to end violence against women and girls by promoting gender equity and educating men about their role in the issue. Founded in 1991 in response to the Montreal Massacre, the White Ribbon campaign has since spread to over 60 countries and engaged 4,700 people through workshops and speaking events in 2017.
Barry McKnight, co-chair of the White Ribbon March in Fredericton, spoke to the crowd of attendees in Officer’s Square last week. He said that men need to be educated on what causes violence and the role society plays in making men feel these behaviours are acceptable.
“There’s a huge implication for men because they are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of violence in our society,” said McKnight.
Imelda Perley followed McKnight’s speech by welcoming the crowd onto the unceded and unsurrendered traditional lands of Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq peoples. She thanked marchers for their attendance and encouraged those present to “pat yourself on the shoulder.”
“Listen for those cries of help and honour that you have ears,” she said.
Leo Hayes and Fredericton High School football players also attended the march. The athletes led the march behind a band of bagpipes and drummers, wearing their jerseys and carrying a sign representing the march.
Once the marchers made it to City Hall, Mcknight spoke at the top of the stairs for a final reminder of the purpose of that day’s march: “Understanding male privilege and understanding why dealing with men’s violence is good for everybody on the gender spectrum.”