By Ally Harris
Feb. 12, 2014
There were more victims of intimate partner violence than there were people diagnosed with breast, prostate and lung cancer in P.E.I. in 2011, says the chair of the Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention.
Philip Smith spoke at the fifth annual Walk in Silence for Victim of Family Violence on Feb. 12.
About 150 people braved the -20 degree wind chill to make the walk from Province House to city hall to show their support.
Smith described the walk as a “time of hope” for the change that will come in the future.
“Our walk in silence is a time to give voice to the individual people, the victims and survivors who are behind those statistics. It’s a time to show solidarity with those living in violent relationships and with the front-line support workers who journey with them every day. It’s a time to draw strength from our shared commitments to building families and communities committed to care, respect, and dignity in relationships.”
Richard Collins, deputy police chief, was pleased with the turnout to the event.
“Actually, the turnout is better than I thought it would be. With the cold, I thought we’d be down a few more people. I think that’s just indicative of how this issue’s in the forefront now and it means so much to a lot of people.”
Valerie Docherty, minister responsible for the status of women, said the growth in support of the walk has been amazing.
“It’s no longer adults. Children, youth, are taking it as a responsibility in the schools as well. So we are doing good. We are doing the right thing when we see so much participation.”
Mayor Clifford Lee said educating the youth of the community is key in eliminating domestic violence.
“If we can convince and educate the youth of our community, of our city and of our province that behaviour is not acceptable, hopefully in the next generation the figures that we’ve recently seen in the media about the number of family violence cases will be down to zero.”
Collins said awareness and enforcement were also important factors.
“I think people have to break that cycle, people have to report it, people have to realize that it is a crime.”
Detry Carragher, a board member with the P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services, said many of us simply don’t realize this is a problem in our community.
“Over 500 women sought family violence outreach services from our organization between 2012 and 2013. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, of any age and any level of social or economic status.”
Smith also noted that often we don’t realize those close to us are suffering.
“This walk is a time to acknowledge the toll that family violence claims in Island homes and in every Island community. Many times that violence is hidden, and we may not know the pain experienced among our family, friends, and neighbours.”
But this shouldn’t be the case, Carragher said.
“I’m sure we all agree that our homes should be a safe haven for our families.”
There are many programs on P.E.I. focused on making a change in our communities. One of those is the Mayor’s Purple Ribbon Task Force.
“Someone asked me a couple years back what impact is the mayor’s purple ribbon task force having and I guess the answer to that is I honestly don’t know,” said Lee. “I’m not sure there’s a way you can measure what’s coming out of the activities of that taskforce. “If the activities of that task force caused one family to get out of family violence, my reaction would be that the money spent is well spent.”
Lee said we must all come together to help make this change.
“Unfortunately we can’t go back and change history. We can make a difference going forward, and I encourage all of you to join with the city in making a difference and making this community, this province, a better place to live and raise a family.”