'This is something we stand up for': Grimsby woman leads walk against gender-based violence

·2 min read

When it comes to raising awareness about gender-based violence, inclusivity is crucial.

This year, Gillian’s Place, a St. Catharines shelter for survivors of gender-based violence, introduced female ambassadors to its Walk A Mile campaign.

The campaign originally started under the name Walk A Mile In Her Shoes, as a fundraising event that saw men gather and walk in high heels and collect donations for Gillian’s Place.

As part of this year’s event, Walk a Mile in Your Style, women were also able to lead their own cohorts to walk and raise awareness and collect donations.

One of those women is Grimsby’s Becky Goulet. A real estate agent by trade, Goulet is a monthly donor at Gillian’s Place.

In the search for more support for its annual walk, the shelter decided to reach out to women like Goulet who were longtime supporters and asked them to be ambassadors.

“I was just really happy to get involved,” Goulet said.

Armed in pink clothing, the official colour of the campaign, Goulet gathered with family and friends outside her Grimsby home on Oct. 16. Her cohort participated in a house decorating contest by hanging pink painted shoes from her house, before going for a walk in the surrounding area, collecting funds and sharing information with passersby.

Alone, Goulet’s group raised more than $3,700.

“I just know many women that have experienced it and it's something that shouldn't happen,” said Goulet as she recalled instances of gender-based violence in her own family.

She said she believes that both women and men play the same role in being an ally to victims, but as mother of two sons, she felt it important to set an example for them.

“I want them to see that this is something that we stand up for,” she said. “I want them to be leaders and to look to us for examples of how to do that.”

Graeme Dargavel, manager of community development at Gillian’s Place, said the more than $125,000 raised by this year’s walk could not have been done without the support of the community.

Walks like these were not only important for the funds they raised, Dargavel said, but for bringing awareness to the issue as well.

Dargavel said as a result of the pandemic, Gillian’s Place expected the number of those in need of service to rise and thus wanted to increase not only the number of ambassadors, but make sure ambassadors were gender inclusive.

“When (clients) see an entire community walking and raising funds to end gender-based violence, it’s very important and very heart warming, knowing their community is behind them,” Dargavel said.

For more information on services or donation, visit gilliansplace.com.

Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News

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