London lights the town purple for a cause

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: JEN DOEDE
Members of the London community gathered at Victoria Park for the annual tree lighting and ceremonial speech to kick off the London Abused Women's Centre's (LAWC) Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign on Nov.1.

The London Abused Women's Centre (LAWC) kicked off their eighth annual Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign at Victoria Park on Nov.1.

The campaign, which takes place each month of November, aims to raise awareness on men's violence towards women. Individuals wear the colour purple to support and stand in solidarity with survivors and help them understand that the abuser is to blame for their mistreatment and not themselves, according to LAWC's Nov.1 press release.

“The colour purple symbolizes courage, honour and survival. It symbolizes the fight to end woman abuse,” Jen Dunn, special events co-ordinator for LAWC said.

At this year's kick off event, individuals gathered at Victoria Park to listen to speeches from community members showing support for the campaign and stories of women who have been abused.

Ashley Desjardine, a survivor of a past abusive relationship, spoke at the event. Desjardine told the crowd her story of calling up the LAWC for the first time to report her abuse and how she has changed throughout the process.

The event also highlighted the story of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Cree woman from Alberta who was murdered and found dead in a hotel bathtub in 2011. Cindy was a caring and kind mother to her three daughters.

To conclude the event, Desjardine pressed a power switch to turn on the numerous purple lights adorning a large pine tree in the park. The pine tree will be illuminated with purple lights during the entire month of November.

In addition, red human silhouettes were set up in front of the pine tree as part of the Silent Witness Project. The project gives a voice to women that are no longer with us, as a result of being murdered by a man in their life. Attendees could read the stories and learn more about these murdered women at the event through these silhouettes.

A number of recognizable members of the community attended the event such as Mayor Matt Brown, members of the London Lightning basketball team and members of the London Police Service.

Dunn explained that #ShineTheLight was trending Canada-wide during the event for the first time on the campaign's kick off day.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even tweeted about the event at Victoria Park, saying, “Too many women & girls suffer from violence across the country. Thanks for all you do to prevent it & help them recover. #ShineTheLight”

In regards to other campaign events coming up this month, Fanshawe's sexual violence prevention advisor Leah Marshall will be spearheading the Chalk Walk event on campus. The Chalk Walk will take place Nov. 6 and feature statistics regarding abuse towards women and violence against women written on sidewalks around the campus for Fanshawe community members to learn more about the topic and the impact it has on society. In addition, the Fanshawe London campus light up their entrances in purple throughout the month to show their support for the campaign.

The LAWC is also encouraging individuals to wear purple on Nov.15 to help raise awareness and the London Lightning basketball team will have custom purple jerseys on Nov. 30 during their annual Shine the Light on Woman Abuse game. Dunn explained the jerseys will be auctioned off after the game. Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger version of each image.
London lights the town purple for a cause photos
London lights the town purple for a cause photos
London lights the town purple for a cause photos