The annual Take Back the Night (TBTN) march to end gendered violence brought in a significant number of student marchers despite its move to downtown Kitchener, farther from the universities than last year’s Waterloo Park start. UW, Laurier (WLU), and Conestoga College (CC) were represented by groups of students and staff.
“I feel like we had probably our best student turnout and we’re really happy about that,” said Jennifer Andrews, office manager at the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASCWR). Andrews, along with Joan Tuchlinsky, SASCWR’s public education manager, co-organized the event, which has been held in the Region for 31 years. Andrews credits the increase of students to a few things. SASCWR recently received a grant from Status of Women Canada for the purpose of working with the universities and CC. The grant was used to fund The Change Project, a three-year initiative (now in its third year) to end gendered violence on post-secondary campuses. SASCWR reaches out to UW, WLU, and CC every year regarding TBTN, and is supported by the UW Women’s Centre and WLU Centre for Women and Trans People. This year, a delegation of students and staff attended the event. This year’s march had around 300 people in attendance. Andrews said the location of the march has changed over the years. The move to downtown Kitchener was for accessibility purposes. “We wanted to create a loop where there was a start and finish so people didn’t have to find a way to get back to their vehicle,” Andrews said. The event began with a rally in front of Kitchener City Hall and ended with food and music in the Rotunda Gallery. Unlike last year’s rally that was attended by Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran, MPP Catherine Fife, and several city councillors including Jeff Henry, this year’s march had a sparse attendance by local politicians. Catherine Fife sent a delegate to the event and Cameron Dearlove, currently running for regional council, was also in attendance. “[It was] surprising considering the election is so close and one would think ‘what a great opportunity to tell our community that you stand up against violence’,” Andrews said.