Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/6/2011 (3300 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Fay Keewatincappo was only steps away from her West End home last winter when an unknown man grabbed her from behind and sexually assaulted her in an empty parking lot.
The event shattered her thoughts about what she thought was her neighbourhood and has left her reconsidering her family’s future in the West End.
"I’m terrified," she said. "I still have to look over my shoulder every time I go somewhere. I always have somebody walking beside me now."
Keewatincappo was an unofficial, silent face of violence last week as she joined more than 100 West End residents who marched once again to reclaim their neighbourhood.
"We love our neighbourhood and we’re ready to take to the streets to show the world that," said Dodie McKay, community safety co-ordinator for the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association, one of the event’s organizers.
The crowd that gathered at John M. King School on Agnes Street — the starting point for the two-kilometre march — was as diverse as the West End boasts.
Aboriginals, Filipinos, African-Americans and whites of all ages carried handmade signs and banners with slogans like "We choose peace" and "Violence will not be tolerated in our homes," drawing jubilant honks from passing cars.
Small children traipsed eagerly about the curbs, clutching signs with crossed-out handguns on them.
"We need more community events and more opportunities for neighbours to get out and know each other," McKay said.
"It’s a chance to hang out, get to know each other, care for each other and watch each other’s back.
"That’s a small town thing. We’re trying to do that in a big city. It’s important that people understand that," she added.
West End residents first marched last June in response to weeks of violence that saw a 16-year-old boy killed, an eight-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl injured from gunshot wounds, and a six-year-old girl abducted and raped in a playground.
This year’s march was less about battling bad publicity, instead raising awareness of the critical need for community programming, especially youth, to keep the neighbourhood health and thriving.
"Community members understand it’s a very small percentage of this neighbourhood that do violent things. The other 99% are just trying to live," McKay said.
"We want to keep momentum and a positive message alive and leave people feeling empowered and strong about the neighbourhood."
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