On Tuesday, a couple hundred Edmonton men came down to Churchill Square and spent their lunch hour walking in high heels. They also raised more than $120,000 for the violence prevention and treatment programs that we offer here at YWCA Edmonton.
On the surface Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is a lighthearted event - really, who doesn’t like to hear men complaining about how much their feet hurt after only 30 minutes in shoes that women often wear for 10 or 12 hours a day – but underneath the fun, the men know the walk is a symbolic gesture. It is a physical interpretation of that old proverb that you can’t really understand someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. I think we did a pretty good job educating participants about the impacts of family violence right across our city – in schools, workplaces, and homes. I believe for most that message got through and those men are now more aware and empathetic to the pain and suffering families go through when violence is in their lives.
I got back to my office after the event and got a hard, brutal reminder as to why we have events like Walk A Mile In Her Shoes. While we were walking in Churchill Square, police in Wilno, Ontario discovered the bodies of three women in three separate homes. The women had been shot and killed by a man who was later arrested. It has been confirmed that two and perhaps all three of those women were at one time in an intimate relationship with the murderer.
Later in the same day there was another murder on the news; this one closer to home. RCMP discovered the body of a woman in a home in Sherwood Park and arrested a man at the scene. It is early in the investigation, but from piecing together various media reports it looks very likely that this is another case of domestic homicide.
One day. Four dead women.
Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of the violence inflicted on women and children, but Tuesday felt like a punch in the gut. I thought by writing about this slaughter I would be able to frame my disorganized thoughts and gain some sort of perspective. I haven’t. I can’t think of a damn thing that will make Tuesday any less horrific or less profoundly sad. All I know is that the violence and the killing has to stop. And at this moment I am struggling, because I don’t see many signs that we have the political or social will to stop it.
Let’s make a promise to talk about violence. Teach your kids not to be violent. Teach your kids how to recognize the signs of violence before it happens. Make sure your neighbours and co-workers are safe. Talk to someone if you see their anger getting out of hand. Become familiar with the resources available to help people living with violence. Don’t forget the women who died on Tuesday, September 22nd.
YWCA Edmonton CEO