The purple ribbons appeared suddenly one Monday morning in late November, the plastic whipping in the wind and rain. They line the sidewalk along Stamp Avenue, causing drivers and walkers to stop and look.
There are 151 of these purple ribbons, and each one represents an incident of domestic violence against women that occurred between Nov. 2, 2013 and Nov. 1, 2014 in the Alberni Valley.
The ribbons are part of a larger campaign, the 16 Days of Action, running from Nov. 25, which is the United Nations’ International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, to Dec. 10, considered Human Rights Day. The campaign spans these 16 days to highlight the link between violence against women and human rights.
This is the second year for the Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society’s (ACAWS) ribbon campaign, says executive director Joanne Silver.
“We did it the first year to be part of the national movement for gender-based violence. We did it this year to look at the same statistic and how it moved,” she said.
“It’s an outward and quiet show to the community that violence still exists.”
The number 151 came from incidents of violence against women reported to Port Alberni RCMP, Silver said: 140 domestic violence files and 11 sexual assault-related files.
It’s a daunting statistic; so is the fact that across Canada, for every 1,000 domestic violence reports only 33 per cent are actually reported.
“Two-thirds of the cases don’t get reported,” says Silver. “We see that here all the time. We encourage people to call the police but sometimes they don’t. We give them service whether they call the police or not.”
North Island College’s Human Services Worker class has planned a vigil on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 11:30 a.m. to honour the women killed in the Montreal Massacre. The event will start with a walk around the field circuit followed by the vigil, then refreshments.