A planning meeting was held on Tuesday night amidst growing concerns about a rise in sexual assaults in Swift Current. A crowd of approximately 50 citizens, almost entirely female, met to address rumours in the community of recent sexual assaults.
The gathering was organized by Andrea McCrimmon, Courtney Stewart, and Anika Henderson.
“There were a lot of rumours going on around town about sexual assaults and we didn’t really have a lot of facts and a lot of people were feeling really nervous and unsafe,” said Stewart.
“I reached out to a woman who, I saw on a Facebook comment that she was attacked and she was sharing that fact. And so I reached out to her to find out more and then she told me her story and said we should organize an event. She was the catalyst for us organizing this tonight. Unfortunately she could not make it at the last minute, but she did help me create that statement together about her attack,” added McCrimmon.
“I feel like the two attacks that we know about are very concerning. We know that 91 percent of rapes do not get reported to the police. So we decided to hold this community event to try and figure out what is actually happening based on these rumors. Are they true or are they not true? Obviously at least two of them are true, which we’ve discovered just by doing this organizing,” said McCrimmon.
The meeting was organized quickly via a Facebook event page.
“I was really happy with how the meeting went and encouraged by the turnout. I’m excited about the Take Back the Night march that we’re going to hold on Friday. We’re going to meet at 9 p.m. at the parking lot of Ashley Park Community Hall. I think that will be a good way for people to join in and support one another,” said Stewart. “We’re also going to form a Facebook group where people can come and talk and exchange stories and support,” she added.
The page will be called Take Back the Night Swift Current and should be up on Wednesday, July 15.
“Take Back the Night is a global organization and there are marches and events held all over the world. I think the idea is that the onus shouldn’t be on a woman to prevent herself from getting raped. She should be able to walk. She should be able to wear what she wants and feel safe. It’s not a woman’s responsibility not to get raped. It’s men’s responsibility not to rape,” explained Stewart.
A number of concerns were raised, including lighting and overgrown trees and bushes along the Chinook Pathway, where one of the assaults took place.
A number of women also raised concerns about the lack of information from the RCMP regarding sexual assaults and attendees were encouraged to make calls to demand more detailed information.
“I hope that both the police and City of Swift Current will be more forthcoming with information when they have it, especially information that could keep us safe,” concluded Stewart.