Submitted by Dana Bachman
On Saturday December 1st, shoppers at Sobeys in Fenelon Falls will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief. What is going on? There are grey haired ladies wearing orange t-shirts and a little dog pulling a wagon, standing outside the Sobeys entrance and exit doors. Too late for Hallowe’en and orange is definitely not a Christmas colour. Did these pumpkin ladies push out the Salvation Army bell ringers who usually stand at by Sobeys doors during the Christmas season?
These aren’t ”pumpkin ladies,” and they aren’t little weak grey haired grandmothers. These are strong women, political advocates, and members of GRAN (Grandmothers’ Advocacy Network) fighting to raise public awareness to end violence against women and girls.
From 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day, the United Nations is running the UNiTE Campaign: 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence. This a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls everywhere. As a bright and optimistic colour, orange has been chosen by the United Nations as the colour to represent the Campaign’s goal of a future free from violence.
The theme and activities of the UNiTE Campaign in 2018 under the global banner Orange the World, will mobilize all UNiTE networks, including the UN system, government partners, civil society, schools and universities, private sector, sports associations and individuals to stand in solidarity with women’s human rights organizations and defenders who are working to end violence against women and girls. The city of Kawartha Lakes is one of those “government partners.” For the third year in a row, our City Hall in Lindsay will be lit up in orange during those 16 days of activism. You can see our mayor Andy Letham proudly sporting an orange tie on the city website along with an expression of support for the 16 days of activism.
Last year a symbolic candle light vigil was held on the steps of City Hall, attended by MP Jamie Schmale, and by Fenelon Falls councillors Doug Elmslie and Stephen Strangway.
Symbolism is important and it was a good photo op with the grey haired ladies bundled up against the cold and holding little candles. More important than symbolism was the action taken individually by municipal employees. Inspired by the mayor and council, many of them personally donated to local women’s shelters such as Amy’s Place and Women’s Resources.
Jamie Schmale last year gave a moving speech on the steps of City Hall. He spoke of his young son and how he wanted to raise him to be sensitive towards women. This year, at the Senior’s Centre, on Thursday November 15 at 8:00 pm, Jamie has invited GRAN to present him with an orange ribbon which he will wear proudly in parliament during the 16 days of activism.
GRAN advocates are proud to live in the City of Kawartha Lakes, which has taken our place alongside other cities worldwide to “Orange the World” and throw an orange spotlight on sexual and gender based violence both in third world countries and here in Canada, even in our own local community.