Honouring Rehtaeh Parsons

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Nearly 200 attend Respect for Women March in Pictou

The Knights of Columbus lead the second annual Respect for Women March out of the deCoste Centre on Sunday afternoon. Roughly 150 to 200 people attended the march that began at the deCoste Centre before returning after a walk through downtown Pictou. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of violence against women and family violence. 

PICTOU – Rehtaeh Parsons could have been anyone’s daughter, granddaughter or niece.

That was just part of the message her great aunt Carolyn Vienneau conveyed prior to the second annual Respect for Women March held in Pictou on Sunday afternoon.

The walk began in 2012 through the Knights of Columbus New Glasgow Council 1667 in memory of Amber Kirwan. This year it was held by Council 8608 of Pictou in memory of Rehtaeh Parsons, a Halifax teen who committed suicide last month after she was allegedly sexually assaulted and cyberbullied.

Vienneau, from Pictou, said she believes these marches are important to raising awareness and helping to stop violence against women. She wasn’t able to attend last year’s march, but said seeing the group in attendance on Sunday shows how many people want violence of any kind against women to stop.

“Seeing so many people out today has been great,” she said. “I think having women and men fighting together against violence against women shows the kind people that are out there and how much they care.”

She continued, discussing the cyberbullying that Parsons had to deal with, stating that social media and cellphones greatly increase the impact of cyberbullying on young people.

“These people are profoundly impacted by the isolation and shame associated with this criminal activity,” said Vienneau. “If we saw 100 or more children in a playground picking on one person and constantly picking on them, we would certainly step forward and do something, but in the case of cyberbullying you don’t see them. We don’t know about it, so we can’t step up and stop it. We do know about it now and do have to make a stand against cyberbullying.

“Cyberbulling is something you can’t see happening or how much it hurts the person it’s happening to.”

Although the march’s aim is to eventually have no violence against or abuse of women, it’s also to raise awareness of programs available to those that have suffered from abuse. While walking during the march, Vienneau said helping those that have suffered from abuse is just as important as trying to end all abuse against women.

“She (Rehtaeh) was very talented and was born to be extraordinaire,” said Vienneau. “She was an artist and spent three days with me last summer down at the trailer, painting every single moment to try to help with the healing process. Our whole family reached out to her, but she was in such a dark place and so angry that she just couldn’t get out of that dark place no matter what we would try to do.

“Rehtaeh wanted to speak out a year ago, but didn’t because of the bullying. Now we will for her because they can’t hurt her now.”

Organizations: Knights of Columbus New Glasgow Council

Geographic location: Pictou, Halifax

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  • Alleson
    May 29, 2013 - 10:47

    Bravo K of C! Change will come when parents raise children who respect others because they themselves have known their parents' love and respect. My father, a physically strong but gentle man, was also a K of C. He set a great example by how he treated his children, my mother, grandmother and aunts and how he spoke of the women with whom he worked.