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Cobourg takes back the night

By Ashley Maika, Northumberland Today

ASHLEY MAIKA/ Northumberland Today 
Hope Kirksey joins the audience listening to a sung being sung at Take Back the Night on Thursday in Cobourg.

ASHLEY MAIKA/ Northumberland Today Hope Kirksey joins the audience listening to a sung being sung at Take Back the Night on Thursday in Cobourg.

Take Back the Night saw about 50 people out in Cobourg on Thursday night working to end the stigma around sexual violence.

Take Back the Night has appeared Internationally, beginning in 1981 in Canada, and the event has been adopted by many organizations with similar missions to end many forms of violence, including but not exclusive to, domestic abuse, sexual assault and violence against women.

The third week of every September, across Canada, women and men take a stand and walk to support the survivors of sexual assault and speak out to raise awareness about sexual violence.

Hosted by The Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre in Cobourg, the event included rally speakers, some music and poetry and the Light Your Way solidarity walk down the boardwalk.

This is the first time Cobourg’s Take Back the night was held in Victoria Park by the Dec. 6 memorial to commemorate the women that were slain at École Polytechnique de Montréal.

The proximity to a monument that exists because of violence against women solidified the purpose of everyone who had gathered for the event.
Hope Kirksey, a survivor and organizer of the event, has been a part of Take Back the Night Cobourg for four years, her first year as an observer and three years as a speaker. She said she thought that being around the monument was very fitting for their purpose.

“First allow me to give you the Coles Notes version of the last 6+ years of my life. On May 8, 2010, I was sexually assaulted in my home by someone I had just recently began dating. It did not happen at night after the bar and too much to drink … it happened around noon on a Saturday completely sober just after my daughter thankfully had just left my place,” said Kirksey to begin her speech.

She went on to speak about the drawn-out length of the trial and finally, after six years, the man finally went to on serve his sentence in prison.
“I am 'supposed' to feel lucky because I saw a conviction despite the odds against it. I’d rather beat the odds in winning Lotto 649. I don’t feel lucky. I do feel I have some justice but lucky is stretching it,” Kirksey said.

Also speaking was Mandy Robinson, Cobourg’s well-known town crier, but also a survivor herself. “I hope we can go forward as a group tonight in this walk, remembering who we are, where we’ve come from, and what we intend to do with our futures,” said Robinson as she concluded her own speech.
The event began at 7 p.m. and with the rain holding off, the sun had set and it was dark for the walk by 7:40 p.m.

Lights were handed out, and among the group to make the walk, was Cobourg’s police, including police Chief Kai Liu.

As a unit, everyone made their way around the boardwalk, carrying signs and holding their lit candles, some speaking quietly and some making the journey in silence.



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