As many as 60 people attended a candlelight vigil to mark the ninth annual International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25.
The event, organized by Ishtar Transition Housing Society was held at the refurbished plaza in McBurney Lane.
The society offers numerous programs including “Children who Witness Abuse” and “Stop the Violence” counseling programs. In addition, it operates two domestic violence shelters. The society also provides outreach and community based victim services.
The short ceremony lasted approximately 30 minutes, with remarks from representatives of Langley’s three levels of government, the RCMP, Ishtar’s executive director, Arbe McKenzie, and Ishtar’s president Janette Kovacs.
In attendance were Diane Warawa representing MP Mark Warawa; MLA Peter Fassbender, minister of education; MLA Mary Polak, minister of environment; Mayor Jack Froese, Township of Langley, Councillor Rosemary Wallace representing the City of Langley and School Board Chair Wendy Johnson. Township Councillor Grant Ward; Langley City Councillor Dave Hall, and School Board Trustee Cecelia Reekie were also in attendance.
The speakers talked about the effects that domestic violence has on society. Froese described his first experience with domestic violence as a rookie police officer and the profound effect it had on his career.
Ishtar’s new executive director Arbe McKenzie noted the importance of keeping the issue of domestic violence front and centre.
“The candlelight vigil is an opportunity to discuss the devastating effects that violence has on both women and children.
“Raising awareness supports areas such as prevention, which is essential to address root and structural causes with intentions of promoting healthy relationships and gender equality,” she said.
Soroptimist president-elect Sharon Fisher said that “someone has to do something, and we are all someone.”
She announced that the event kicked off the first annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence — an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.
All of the evening’s speakers noted that society has come far with respect to the issue, but also stressed the need for continuing education. They commended the members of the public who, by their attendance, demonstrated that gender violence in any form is unacceptable.
The ceremony concluded with a few minutes of silence in honour of women who have been victims of violence.
Nov. 25 marked the 48th anniversary of the assassination of the Mirabal sisters by dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.
The resulting outcry caused the overthrow of the Trujillo regime.
The day was observed throughout Latin America and in 1999 the United Nations proclaimed Nov. 25 as the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.