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Walk the Square in Her Shoes - December 2

Thank you to all who attended, supported, donated, fundraised and participated in the success of the 1st annual Walk the Square in Her Shoes, as part of the Town of Goderich's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence presented by Evermore Ontario.

As the old saying goes: You can’t understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. This experience of men literally walking in women's high-heeled shoes creates the opportunity for education, self-reflection, and change. It's impressive to see such a visually stunning public statement of listening, learning, allyship, and commitment. Plus, It's not easy walking in heels as the participants soon discovered.

I would like to thank our amazing campaign sponsors, Melissa Daer Real Estate Group and Royal Lepage Heartland. I would also like to thank our supporting partners for their contributions to the campaign: Cravings, Olive and Rose Flower Studio, Chuck's Roadhouse Goderich, The Den Juice Co., Women's House of Grey Bruce, the Town of Goderich, Maple Leaf Motel and Classically Rustic.

I also need to give a huge thank you to all our amazing volunteers who I could not have done any of this without them: Susan, Robin, Liz, Leah, Laurie, Claire and Holly.

I would like to also recognize and applaud this community for their approachable and progressive attitude to preventing intimate partner violence and gender-based violence. I am truly grateful to now call this town my home.

With that, I would also like to voice my gratitude for our town council, of the Honourable Mayor Trevor Bazinet, Deputy Mayor Leah Noel, Councillor Thompson, Councillor Carroll, Councillor Segreen, our newest Councillor Kelly and especially, Councillor Petrie. With Councillor Petrie’s motion, Deputy Mayor Noel’s seconded and council’s unanimous vote in favor, we began the 72nd municipality in Ontario to declare Intimate Partner Violence an epidemic. Our council also ensured this declaration was voiced to the rest of Ontario as well as Provincial and Federal Government.

While the declaration is a measure that has been viewed as symbolistic rather than tangible action, it’s the first step in prevention and awareness. This declaration sends a clear message to Ontario decision makers that IPV is a serious social and public health issue. In the past 52 weeks we have had 62 confirmed femicides with an additional 5 unconfirmed. The reality is, if we don’t adopt preventative measures and engage in open community conversations, the alarming trend of intimate partner violence will continue to grow. In Huron County, intimate partner violence is a constant source of calls – 652 occurrences to date this year. Now double or even triple that number. That’s the real number of IPV around us. WE CAN CHANGE THE OUTCOMES OF THIS VIOLENCE.

As a community, we need to end the negative stigma around violence and begin to engage in open community real talk conversations, this is no longer a hidden or silent topic. Call it out, call it what it is and do something about it. End the victim blaming and revictimization. Victims need to be heard, believe them, ask them what you can do to support them, and empower them. Together our voice’s can be heard to the decision makers of Ontario and Canada, we can ensure our call to action is heard and further recommendations are implemented to reduce the number of further predictable and preventable deaths.

These numbers may just appear as statistics, but the truth of the matter is everyone knows someone. You might not know it, but you do. You might not think it happens in our community either, but it does and the results can be fatal like it was for Marian and Doug Fischer of Wingham, Laura Wigelsworth of Vanastra, Beverly Stevenson and her husband Darwin Ducharme of Brussels, and Caitlin Jennings of London.

Thank you, Dan and Michelle Jennings who made the long trip down to Goderich from Sault Ste. Marie to speak at the event. Dan is advocating to ensure his daughter Caitlin's voice is heard as she is no longer able to. Caitlin's death was preventable and her story needs to be told. #CaitlinsHeard

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