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Spotlight on domestic violence in November’s “Shine the Light” campaign

By Julia Riddle on November 10, 2015

The Heritage Building at City Hall, lit up purple for last year's Shine the Light. Photo courtesy of OCTEVAW.

The Heritage Building at City Hall, lit up purple for last year’s Shine the Light. Photo courtesy of OCTEVAW.

Shoppers in the Wellington West area may notice a new violet trend adorning storefronts this month, with a number of businesses choosing to decorate their storefronts with the colour and hand out purple pamphlets throughout the month of November.

The Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) is running their annual “Shine the Light” campaign aimed at promoting discussion of the impact of intimate partner violence on women. The campaign, which has taken place with the support of Elgin Street businesses for the last three years, is expanding to the Wellington West Business Improvement Association for the first time this year, and asks businesses to engage the community in the issue by decorating and providing information to their customers.

Erin Leigh, Executive Director of OCTEVAW, points out that every year, a different tragedy points to the pressing need to address violence against women – from this September’s horrific shootings in Wilno, Ontario, to last year’s well-publicized Jian Ghomeshi cases. And for the statistically minded, the web is full of sobering reports on the prevalence and persistence of violence against women in Canada.

But in the face of such violence, Shine the Light steps into the role of empowering communities. After all, Leigh says, “No person comes out and says, “I believe in violence against women.” […] Most people we’re talking about, a silent majority, really believe it’s something that should stop, and talking about it, taking more ownership over it, is a really important step in making that happen.

Shine the Light fits neatly into OCTEVAW’s mandate as an umbrella organisation supporting a range of service providers (to learn more about Ottawa groups providing front-line services to end gender-based violence, check out the list on the group’s website). Leigh notes that Ottawa in fact leads many municipalities in taking steps to address violence against women, with OCTEVAW standing as one of the only fully funded domestic violence coordinating committees out of the 49 in Ontario.

However, there is always more to be done. While the campaign has been well received the last few years, expanding its inclusivity and reach is definitely on OCTEVAW’s radar. They’ve made better engagement with Ottawa’s queer community a priority this year, including by hosting a November 12th event on Intimate Partner Violence in queer communities in collaboration with Kind (details here).

Check out a full calendar of the month’s events here. Individuals can support the campaign by wearing purple on Nov. 13th, and learn more on Twitter, Facebook, and the OCTEVAW website.

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