by Deron Johnston
On Saturday, May 27, Leeds Grenville Interval House (LGIH) hosted their first annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event. The event had two purposes: to fundraise for LGIH, and, most importantly, to raise awareness of the ongoing societal problem of violence against women. What’s unique about this event is that it’s only for men, who are encouraged to literally put on women’s shoes and walk a mile (which on this day was only about a kilometre). It’s symbolic to try and help men to understand what it’s like for women who are victims of violence. Participants were also asked to fundraise in advance of the event.
The event had about 50 male participants, who all sported red high heel shoes and special t-shirts that were provided by LGIH to all participants. Some of the participants included MPP Steve Clark and Brockville Mayor David Henderson, and the whole ‘Red Shoe Platoon’ was led by bagpiper and Brockville Police Chief Scott Fraser, who piped the group straight down a closed-off King Street through the heart of Downtown Brockville. The reception to the walkers was remarkable, as many women who were watching yelled words of support and cheered as the participants walked/staggered by.
Walk A Mile In Her Shoes was created by American, Frank Baird, in 2001. “What started out as a small group of men daring to totter around a park, has grown to become a world-wide movement with tens of thousands of men raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centres, domestic violence shelters, and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs”. The initiative recognized that men are critical to ending violence against women and that, in order to have greater impact, men need to speak out and participate directly in ways to help end it.
LGIH’s mission is “to provide emergency shelter, supportive counseling, advocacy, information, and referrals for abused women and their children who have been physically, sexually, emotionally or psychologically abused, threatened, or assaulted.” They assist women to make changes to their lives that help them live free from violence. Additionally, LGIH helps the children of these women to heal from these destructive experiences. Their services are confidential and free. If you’d like more information, or want to volunteer or donate to this important organization that helps all women (and their children) who live in Leeds Grenville, you can call them at 1-800-267-4409, check out their Facebook page www.facebook.com/leedsgrenvilleintervalhouse or visit their website at www.lgih.ca.