Take Back the Night returns to Winnipeg's streets

Dozens reclaimed their space on the streets of Winnipeg on Monday night for the annual Take Back the Night rally and march.

Rally, march against sexual violence draws impassioned crowd mobilized to fight back

Dozens march down Portage Avenue to reclaim safety on the streets of Winnipeg Monday night. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Dozens reclaimed their space on the streets of Winnipeg on Monday night for the annual Take Back the Night rally and march.

After a two year hiatus, the event to condemn violence and the societal structures that enable it returned to the University of Winnipeg campus.

The movement started decades ago to raise awareness about violence against women, and has now expanded to include those who are non-binary, transgender and all members of the LGBTQ community.

"This whole thing was started to break the silence of violence against women and also take back the streets. Because I think as a woman, I think you're raised to really protect yourself as opposed to raising men not to attack women," said Brianne Goertzen, provincial director of the Manitoba Health Coalition and a speaker at the event. 

She said more investment is needed in front-line community support and mental health support for women. 

"We need a lot more resources, a lot more investment, meaningful action from all levels of government. Enough of the Band-Aid solutions." 

'Why isn't this room packed?' 

Attendees gathered first at the university's Bulman Centre for sign-making and speeches, before hitting the streets.

On the mind of many in the room was the recent stabbing death of three-year-old Hunter Straight-Smith, whose mother also was attacked before he was killed. 

"Why isn't this room packed? What do the services look like for Hunter's mother? The mother will live with the echo of that trauma for the rest of her life," said Alaya McIvor, another speaker at the event.

Alaya McIvor spoke at the Take Back the Night event. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Nov. 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly, 

"I'm a woman, I'm a two-spirit Indigenous woman and I grew up with violence my whole entire life. And I don't want violence to happen to any other person," said Jenna Wirch, engagement co-ordinator for Aboriginal Youth Opportunities. 

"It's about creating consent cultures, it's about making sure we're dispelling myths about violence against women. It's about ensuring that we're educating men and the next generation about what it means to be respectful of one another."