Saskatchewan walkers travel 400 km to rise up against women's abuse
Co-organizer Conrad Burns says Walk of Hope meant to bring men and women together against violence.
The Walk of Hope is part of Rise Up, a week-long grassroots event with an aim to raise awareness about abuse towards women. Walkers began in Prince Albert, Sask. on Friday and arrived in Saskatoon Monday after travelling more than 140 kilometres.
Prince Albert's Debbie Chaboyer plans to walk the full 410 kilometres with the group because she's a survivor of violence herself and doesn't want anyone else to suffer like she did.
Chaboyer said she was in a verbally and physically abusive relationship with someone for seven months, but left the situation this past December.
"I want to live free, I want to be happy, to be able to love myself. This is why I'm here — to motivate myself and to be able to motivate others not to stay. There is help, there is support. That's why I'm here," she said.
I want to live free, I want to be happy, to be able to love myself. This is why I'm here — to motivate myself and to be able to motivate others not to stay.- Debbie Chaboyer
The Role of Men
According to Conrad Burns, one of the organizers of the event, rallies about violence against women largely involve other women. He told CBC News it's important for men to stand up against this violence, too.
Although the rally is intended to raise awareness about violence towards all women, Burns acknowledges there is a great deal of violence towards First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women. There are at least 1,180 missing and murdered indigenous women, according to the RCMP.
Burns hopes the Walk of Hope will inspire other men to rise up against violence and abuse.
"Through Residential schools and everything else, we've lost that connection and we've become abusers ourselves. I'd like to become a role model for other men to step up and become the protector again," Burns said.
Chaboyer told CBC News she's thankful for Burns and the other men participating in the walk, but says more need to follow suit.
"It's 2015 and things are changing. We need more men to stand up to this violence and this abuse," she said.
"We're asking you to come and join us in this walk. In this circle we need men. In our culture they are protectors, they are providers. We need that."
The Walk of Hope ends in Regina at the Saskatchewan Legislature on May 30 at 9 a.m. with a wind up at Kinsman Park afterwards.