Walk a Mile Muskoka is coming back this September to raise $30,000 for gender-based violence prevention in Muskoka. This year’s event is being organized by YWCA Muskoka and Muskoka Pride and will be held on Sunday, September 24 at 11 a.m. in Memorial Park, Bracebridge. A BBQ will be held after the walk sponsored by the Bracebridge Lions Club.
For the past seven years, YWCA Muskoka has held an annual Walk a Mile Muskoka event for gender-based violence prevention. Over 400 community members have walked to fundraise and show solidarity around the need for more services and programs to prevent violence in Muskoka. To date, the fundraising event has raised $125,000, and has significantly increased the visibility of a largely hidden issue.
In 2022, the event was rebranded to Walk a Mile in Their Shoes in partnership with Muskoka Pride. The expansion was to reflect the realities of gender-based violence, and the fact that this walk is for everyone – not just men.
“Gender-based violence is rooted in a deep-seated belief that one human can be worth more than another. It can take many forms: name-calling, hitting, pushing, blocking, stalking/criminal harassment, rape, sexual assault, control, and manipulation. It can happen in families, at work, at school and between friends and acquaintances and strangers,” explains Hannah Lin, Executive Director of YWCA Muskoka.
“Abuse crosses income, race, ability and gender – it can happen to anyone, no matter their background or circumstance, but it’s important to know that women, girls, Indigenous and racialized women, trans, gender-diverse and queer people are at the highest risk of experiencing gender-based violence,” said Lin.
Statistics Canada reported that approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Sexual minority Canadians are almost 3 times more likely to experience violent victimization than heterosexual Canadians.
A 2021 report from Egale says that homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia remain rampant in Canadian schools. 2SLGBTQ students report more incidents of verbal, physical, and sexual harassment as well as other forms of targeted bullying (such as cyberbullying) than their cisgender heterosexual peers.
The funds raised at Walk a Mile will be used for violence prevention initiatives in Muskoka – specifically to run youth programs.
“When it comes to violence prevention, reaching youth of all genders during their most formative years is extremely important,” said Merv Taylor-Morin, President of Muskoka Pride. “The funds raised will support YWCA Muskoka and Muskoka Pride youth programs in 2023-2024. These programs explore issues that help young people develop healthy relationships now and in the future. Your support will have a direct impact on a young person’s experience of safety and wellbeing.”
This year, Fowler Construction Company Limited is the exclusive Champion Sponsor of the event.
“Trusted since 1949, Fowler has built a community-driven reputation for supporting local charities, and inclusive organizations – like YWCA Muskoka,” said Larry Wilson, President of Fowler. “Over the course of more than seven decades we have developed a welcoming, safe, and healthy environment for our team members. We foster diversity, it’s a core value, and we stand behind organizations who share these values.”
Walk a Mile in Their Shoes is for all genders and all ages. It is a family-friendly event. There’s no minimum fee to participate however walkers are encouraged to set a personal goal and share their actions from their fundraising portal. Participants may register as an individual, join an existing team or create their own team. Walkers are encouraged to wear something red and comfortable walking shoes. High heels will not be handed out this year.
Register to walk at www.walkamilemuskoka.ca
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