SACHA hosts annual Take Back the Night event
Learn more about how you can attend global rally Take Back the Night, which protests sexual and gender-based violence
On Sept. 21, an event part of the worldwide movement Take Back the Night will be held at Hamilton City Hall Forecourt. Take Back the Night is an annual rally and march in support of the fight to end sexual violence, gender-based violence and street harassment.
These events are held around the world every year and one has been hosted in Hamilton by the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area for over 40 years.
SACHA’s public education coordinator Miranda Jurilj explained that the movement originally began as a protest for women who felt unsafe or were assaulted or harassed while walking home at night and has since expanded to encompass a broader mission.
“[Take Back the Night] has continued to grow and become this protest all forms of gender-based violence, sexual violence and street harassment. A way for survivors, their allies and communities to assert that everybody has the right to be safe in every part of life. It has been an event that has grown to not just [be] a march and rally, but [also] a celebration of community,” said Jurilj.
The theme of this year’s Take Back the Night is Community Power Through Collective Resistance. Jurilj explained that this theme aims to emphasize the importance of uniting all that are fighting for a world free of oppression and violence.
The theme also hopes to bring intergenerational solidarity to the fight against sexual and gender-based violence through honouring past activists.
"There have been people who have led the way for us to have Take Back the Night in the form that it is now. There are people doing the work now and our hope is that the future generations won't have to do this work—that it'll be a world that people are thriving in and not needing to fight against sexual violence and gender-based violence,” said Jurilj.
In Aug. 2023, intimate partner violence was declared an epidemic in Hamilton. In 2022, 12,514 domestic violence calls were made to Hamilton police and an additional 7,660 calls were made to non-police, violence against women crisis support lines.
Wil Prakash Fujarczuk, manager of the Sexual Violence Prevention Education Program within the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office, shared sentiments on the significance of this year’s theme and the importance of unity and strength among the McMaster University and Hamilton community.
“As an office is so important for us to really send the message to folks on campus, given the disturbingly high rates that we see on like campuses across North America, that there are people working to create a safer world. There's like so much support in that sense of solidarity,” said Prakash Fujarczuk.
In preparation for the event, SACHA hosted a sign-making party on campus. Jurilj shared that the sign-making event gives marchers the chance to put their message out there and create a sign that is personally meaningful, while also allowing marchers to become acquainted before the rally.
The main event takes place on Sept. 21 at 6:00 p.m., where marchers can attend an Indigenous artists and small business market, hear live music from local musicians and listen to a drag story time lead by McMaster’s own Unita Assk.
Starting at 8:00 p.m., speakers will kick off the march speaking towards this year’s theme and how it intersects with their own work and activism.
Jurilj explained that the march itself will proceed at a slower pace to be as accessible as possible to all who want to participate. Additionally, DARTS buses will be available for those who prefer to ride along.
“There will be a band playing, a marching band during the march, so we are going to be as loud as possible and take up that space and feel good about reclaiming our rights to safety.” said Jurilj.
More information on this year’s Take Back the Night and SACHA’s services can be found on SACHA’s Instagram.