Hope and healing for a community gripped by fear was the objective of a rally condemning violence against women held at the intersection of Salmon River Road, Yankee Flats Road and Heywood Armstrong Road on Oct. 22.
The gathering drew more than 50 people, including members of the Silver Creek community, RCMP officers and representatives from nearby First Nations.
The problem of violence against women has been underscored in the Silver Creek area by the disappearances of Deana Wertz, Caitlin Potts and Ashley Simpson.
More recently, the RCMP have located human remains at a property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road and a man linked to the property is in custody for threatening a woman with a gun in August.
“We want answers on behalf of the family and on behalf of the people; that was the idea in calling for this, it’s calling for an end to violence against all women, all races because we know that not all the women were indigenous,” said rally organizer Jody Leon, who wore a t-shirt bearing Simpson’s face with the word missing printed above it.
“This is not a criticism of anything that is being done; we need that work to be done. To me, I think that’s very honourable that we have RCMP who have joined us today,” Leon added, gesturing to the two uniformed RCMP officers in attendance.
Attendees shared moving poems and songs.
Karmen Krahn, a behavioural consultant for School District #83 spoke of the emotional impact the police presence had on students of Silver Creek Elementary, who had been conducting an earthquake drill on Thursday as the police were marshalling at the Silver Creek Community Hall directly across Salmon River Road.
“There was a little girl who looked up at me and said ‘is the earthquake real?’ and I said no, it’s just a test. And then she said, ‘are the police real?’ and I said yes they are, and you’re going to see them when you go out for recess,” Krahn said with tears in her eyes.
Krahn said it astonishes her that students practise for something like an earthquake that may never happen but are not given education on the subject of violence against women.
Krahn lamented about the images of the crime scene and the police units searching the property in Silver Creek but said the rally offered hope.
“Now they’re going to have pictures of this in their heads,” she said, gesturing at the circle of rally participants, “which is an alternative so that when our little girls come to us with stories to tell, they know that people like us come together and stand shoulder-to-shoulder and say ‘you can talk to us, you don’t have to be invisible, you don’t have to be silent and you don’t have to be confused.’”
The rally ended with a moment of silence and prayers were for all women who are victims of violence.
Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding it, rally participants reported feeling a sense of solidarity and rejuvenation afterwards.