Education key to ending sexual violence
By Shelby Lisk
This year’s Take Back the Night march attracted a large crowd to Lion’s Park in Belleville on Thursday evening at dusk to rally with women for an end to sexual and gender-based violence.
The rally and march happens every year, around the world, to give power back to women to walk safely in their neighbourhoods at night, without the threat of violence or harassment.
Ellen Carlisle, the public educator with the Sexual Assault Centre for Quinte and District says that in their planning meetings, education was a word that kept being brought up and became this year’s theme.
“We all really believe that education is so important in ending sexual violence and ending domestic violence and violence against women. We really believe that having conversations will create effective change,” says Carlisle.
The rally functions as a place to educate the public on sexual violence and harassment and the recent changes to the sexual education curriculum in Ontario were in the back of the minds of committee members as they organized the event.
Carlisle says the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres is doing a lot of work with community partners to advocate for having health and sexual education teaching that is up-to-date and in line with the times.
“It’s really important that in our schools what we’re learning is lined up with what communities are thinking, the way we’re talking about violence now, and sexual identity… that we’re supporting our trans communities and our queer communities. As well, talking about this kind of stuff reduces the stigma and all the myths around sexual violence, around people’s identities and then leads to more understanding which leads to less cases of violence actually occurring,” says Carlisle.
Leah Morgan, public education co-ordinator at Three Oaks Foundation adds that it’s important that women know their rights.
“I think being educated on their rights is very important because sometimes women are unaware that they’re even being victimized, so education is important in being aware and minimizing victim blaming in general,” says Morgan.
The committee asked for members of the community to talk about different issues relating to education and speak their truths about sexual violence and harassment.
Readings opened the rally with creative writing, poetry and short stories.
The theme of education is bringing future generations to the forefront. Lillian Davidson read to the group of over 80 community members, asking the audience “What if our children, our future, were given what we were denied?”
Morgan also addressed the crowd about the importance of future generations.
“We think that education is a very proactive way in raising awareness and preparing children as they grow and go into intimate relationships,” says Morgan.
Elissa Robertson, from Warrior Women of Quinte agrees that education needs to start with youth.
“When living in a society that both directly and indirectly enables sexual violence, education is the remedy. It’s easier and more effective to teach children about consent, boundaries, gender equality and healthy relationships than it is to have adults unlearn healthy core beliefs,” says Robertson.
The community organizations involved in organizing Take Back the Night were the Sexual Assault Centre for Quinte and District, Red Cedars, Three Oaks, Community Advocacy and Legal Centre, Quinte Health Care’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Program, Ontario Native Women’s Association, Warrior Women of Quinte as well as individual community members.
“Our centres have been around for over 20 years or maybe more than that. We’re really just bringing up these issues again and saying, ‘Hey, we’re still here. We’re still concerned about this stuff and it’s something to pay attention to,’ ” says Carlisle.
Excitement fills the air at fall fair
By Amy Walton
Extreme motorbike stunts and competitive modified lawn tractor racing had the crowd at the Kingston Fall Fair cheering with excitement last Saturday.
The fair is home to many creative events and competitions that show off unique skillsets. Baking, craft making, tractor pulling, horse shows and steer shows have always been a part of the fair circuit and are greatly admired. Rides, games and food are always common at fairs, but the Kingston fair is expanding its types of entertainment to new heights, literally and figuratively. One of the standout attractions was an interesting new show called the Motocross Thrill Show that showcases Canadian professional FMX freestylers from Edge Motorsports.
Three different riders, Tyler Davidson, Ray Post and Kassie Boone soared to tremendous heights. They jumped their bikes from one platform, and landed perfectly on another, after doing impressive poses in the air. The riders jump over 30 feet in the air off the ramp and pose in mid-air with their legs or hands off the bike, making these even more impressive tricks. They don’t seem possible until you have seen them with your own eyes.
The length of the jump is 75 feet and Boone is currently the only female to be jumping lengths this long in all of Canada.
Each of the FMX professionals pulled off impressive and shocking stunts in the air. The most crowd-shocking stunt was called the “Dead Body” performed by Post. In the stunt, he takes his feet off the bike and holds on by his fingertips until he let’s go completely and is hovering above the bike, not touching it at all. He somehow manages to get back on the bike just in time before it hits the platform.
The fair had another fast-paced competition with members of the Grass Hogs, a lawn tractor racing club based in Eastern Ontario. Grass Hogs is one of only two clubs that offer lawn tractor racing in Ontario. It’s their 10th consecutive year at the Kingston Fair with 25 current members.
One of the youngest competing on Saturday was an eight-year-old girl named Georgia Morris from Havelock, Ont. Her dad is also in the club and competed in the senior races. There were a couple of families with three or four members all competing and riding their own lawn tractors. All kinds of ages participated in the races at the fair, the oldest being a 70-year-old man.
Sam Davidson, the organizer of Grass Hogs, says, “Everybody’s here to have fun, that’s what the name of the game is. We’re entertainment for the fair. We want the people to enjoy their day, looking at what these guys do.”
Davidson also talked about this as a family event, and all the group members form close relationships. They even go out to dinner after their races.
Jake Hollett is 22 and has been part of Grass Hogs racing lawn tractors for seven years now and has won every race he’s ever competed in besides one. He can’t even recall how many wins he’s had overall, but another rider vouches that he has two barrels that are overflowing with trophies.
He has two different racing tractors that he has built and does all the work on them himself. One is a modified lawn tractor and another is for the open class competition. In open class, you can do anything you want to the motor and essentially go faster.
“They’re made to look like a lawn mower, but mostly they’re not lawn mower parts. It’s basically a high-powered go-kart. It’s got a lawn mowers hood and fenders on it,” says Hollett about his open class lawn tractor.
Once again, Hollett left the fair undefeated, winning first place in the MOD competition and first again in the free class race. After his last race his face and body were drenched in mud from the track.
The Grass Hogs travel to all kinds of different events. Coming up they will be at the Wellington Pumpkinfest and the Norwood Fair. Other fairs being held in September are-the Stratford Fall Fair, Markham Fair and Tyendinaga Mohawk Fair.
For more fair dates go to http://www.ontariofairs.com