Memorial march honours dead and missing women
by Kelsey Hipkin
Bringing attention to and honouring the thousands of women either killed or missing in Canada, the second annual Valentine’s Day Women’s Memorial March will take place on Feb.14.
The walk, which originated in Vancouver 19 years ago, occurs in different cities all over the country simultaneously on Valentine’s Day.
The inaugural walk in Calgary last year was organized in only three weeks thanks to the efforts of full time mom, student and business owner Suzanne Dzus.
No stranger to adversity having lived on the street for three and half months with a baby boy before she could save up enough for a damage deposit, Dzus had taken part in the march in Vancouver and Edmonton. Once she moved to Calgary she discovered that there wasn’t a Memorial March in the city.
During a talk with MRU women’s studies students Feb.3 and a later phone conversation with The Reflector, Dzus said she had a “smart-alec” friend who suggested someone should start a march in the city a month before Valentines Day.
A week later, “my husband looked at me [and said], ‘you know you’re going to do it so you better get started’,” she explained.
Dzus said about 120 people showed up for that first march, including Calgary MLA and Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta David Swann. For this year, she said that the response has been amazing with people who attended the first march wanting to volunteer this year.
Employees from the Calgary Women’s Shelter and the Calgary City Police are also volunteering with the march.
Dzus said that going back ten years, there are more than 3,000 missing women and that a large number of those women are Indigenous.
She said that the walk is fabulous for raising awareness of violence against women at a local level. She said in the case of aboriginal women, moving away from the societal structure of the reserve and moving to a city like Calgary all your support systems are gone.
“Any visible minority is more vulnerable to violence.”
She added that one of the most important steps to reducing violence against women is to make the men aware of how unacceptable that violence is.
“If we can’t get the men in our lives involved, we’re hooped,” she said, adding that men who confront their abusive peers are more likely to have an impact than women confronting those men.
“In taking the time to educate the men in our lives they will become our allies.”
About 20 men participated in the walk last year and Dzus is hoping that that number will double this year.
In December, she travelled to Winnipeg to meet with a group about forming a national organization. Duzs said that would put more pressure on the government and the RCMP, as well as raising awareness on a larger scale.
The walk takes place at the Scarboro United Church at 134 Scarboro Ave. SW. Although it starts at 2 p.m., people are encouraged to arrive by 1:30 p.m.