Lighting of Tree of Hope marks start of Shine the Light campaign

Dozens gathered in the heart of London on Tuesday evening to kick off the London Abused Women’s Centre’s annual Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign.

Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio, along with councillors Elizabeth Peloza, Anna Hopkins and Mariam Hamou, joined members of the women’s agency in lighting the Tree of Hope at Victoria Park to mark the campaign launch.

“I did not think I’d get so choked up but . . . seeing the crowd here tonight, and watching this campaign grow, it's incredible the work that you have done,” Vecchio, who serves as the shadow minister for women and gender equality and youth and chair of the standing committee on the status of women, said to the crowd, applauding the work of LAWC’s executive director Jennifer Dunn and campaign co-ordinator Fabienne Haller.

Tuesday's launch event drew community members, officials and politicians, including mayor-elect Josh Morgan, to Victoria Park. Now in its 13th year, the annual campaign aims to raise awareness of men’s violence against women and show solidarity with women and girls who have been victims of physical, emotional or psychological abuse.

Seeing members of the public dressed in purple, and businesses and government buildings illuminated with purple lights, is a sign of support for abused women, Haller told attendees.

“It sends a message to abused women and girls that they are not alone, and that we stand with them, shoulder to shoulder,” she said.

This year’s campaign is focused on filicide, the killing of a child by a parent, and coercive control. It honours Jennifer Kagan-Viater and her daughter, Keira, who was killed on Feb. 9, 2020, in an act of filicide.

One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime and a woman is killed somewhere in Canada every day and a half, according to LAWC. Across the country, between 30 and 40 children are killed each year by a violent parent, the agency said.

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press