Men and women, survivors and allies joined together for the #metoo walk in Queen’s Park to share their stories and march in solidarity. The walk began at Queen’s Park where speeches were made and songs from the civil rights movement were sung in support of all who attended. Marchers would then make the walk from Queen’s Park, along University Avenue to end at Nathan Phillips Square.
Elizabeth Thorkelson is a sexual assault survivor who came to the event with a sign that shared the words that an RCMP officer told her when she came forward with what happened to her in 2016. After her assault, Thorkelson was diagnosed with PTSD and underwent 4 months worth of intensive therapy. She eventually decided that she didn’t want to feel responsible if her predator decided to hurt someone again. When Thorkelson shared her story, the RCMP interviewed her abuser, believed him and gave her this response.
Thorkelson says that she hopes that more events like today can change the current climate regarding the rape culture we live in. She says that it’s protests like this that will push us towards legislation that will create shift and cause change. She says that it was her experience with sexual assault that encouraged a family member to share her story of assault that had happened to her 40 years ago with their family. Thorkelson adds “it’s just fixing the stigma…. for so long and still now, I think that it was my fault, I think that I must have done something wrong just because of what’s around me all the time.” She hopes that with getting legislation going we can begin to talk more about consent.
32 women have died in Ontario who were sexual assault victims. One speaker plead to the audience that when they march today that they remember those who are no longer here. XFM news spoke with two of the singers from the Heart Song Rising choir who performed at the event. Deborah Burnt and Barb Thomas talked to XFM News about one of their songs, “We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for just seems to us to be a really important message that actually, we’re going to be the ones that are going to do it. We are IT”
Barnt and Thomas said that the #metoo walk is powerful because “it’s a really important step in a very long process of trying to challenge patriarchy, sexism, but also, racism. Also you know, the oppression of indigenous peoples because these struggles are all connected.” She reminds us that this kind of violence discriminates as well and that African American women are also vulnerable, violence comes in many contexts. They add that it is “more and more movements that will get us started on that uphill battle that is deeply rooted in history, within ourselves and within the systems that we are a part of.”