Williams Lake businesses to light up for Purple Ribbon Campaign

Campaign brings violence against women to light

The purple ribbon is often used to raise awareness of domestic violence. Image courtesy Messer Woland

The purple ribbon is often used to raise awareness of domestic violence. Image courtesy Messer Woland

Some businesses participating in this year’s Purple Ribbon Campaign in Williams Lake will go one step further to shed a light on the issue of gender-based violence.

“We are going to put purple lights in a select number of businesses this year,” said Eileen Alberton, community liaison with the Women’s Contact Society (WCS) helping organize the campaign along with the Cariboo Friendship Society (CFS) and Violence is Preventable committee.

She said the city has agreed to put up purple lights at city hall.

“I think it is going to add a dimension to the campaign that hasn’t been there before. Hopefully it will get more people asking, ‘why are the lights purple?’” Alberton said.

WCS executive director Irene Willsie said while the lights will add to the posters, four large banners and purple ribbons circulating around town, the message is always the same, said WCS executive director Irene Willsie.

People wear purple to raise awareness about violence against women, she said, noting Dec. 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada and the anniversary of that day in 1989 when 14 young women at Polytechnique Montréal were killed because they were women.

Violence against women is about power and balance in a relationship, Willsie said, noting it is in every corner of the community.

“It does happen in the home so it is harder to intervene and it is devastating to our community in many ways. If children witness this type of violence it creates a great deal of distress for the child which impacts brain health and their ability to learn and thrive.”

Willsie appeared as a delegation to city council on Tuesday, Nov. 23 and said incidences of domestic violence have increased in number and severity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That is because of increased isolation or a woman’s inability to ask for help or leave,” she said.

Chiwid Transition House for women has seen an increase of 22 per cent, she added, noting due to COVID-19 protocols there are less beds available as well.

The purple ribbon campaign will go from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, and even home owners are encouraged to put up purple lights at home.

Additionally, the CFS and Violence is Preventable Committee will be screening the film Unclaimed, based on the book ‘On the Farm’ by Stevie Cameron about the Robert William Pickton case. It will be shown at the Hearth Restaurant, 99 South Third Ave. on Monday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. The screening is free, COVID passports are required, and as the film is rated 14A, childcare will be provided. Chili, bannock, treats and beverages will be served.

Willsie listed five ways people can help: listen to women and believe them, make violence your business by not keeping in private, raise non-violent children, help girls protect themselves and encourage people who commit violence to get help. In Williams Lake the emergency shelter phone number is 250-398-5658.

City council voted in favour of the city proclaiming Dec. 1 to 10, 2021 as the Purple Ribbon Campaign in Williams Lake.

READ MORE: Women’s Contact Society hosting clothing give away Tuesday, July 27

READ MORE: Women’s Contact Society hopes to expand its Kidcare Daycare


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Eileen Alberton, community liaison with the Women's Contact Society invites everyone to participate in this year's Purple Ribbon Campaign. Here Alberton stands inside WCS's The Closet which is free to women in need. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)