Newfoundland and Labrador’s Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre (NLSACPC) will be wrapping up their annual Sexual Violence Awareness Week with the 2016 Take Back the Night March this Friday, September 16th  at 7:00pm at Bannerman Park.

The march will finish at City Hall where there will be a series of speakers including a keynote by Melendy Muise and a candle light vigil commemorating those impacted by sexual violence.

The annual Take Back The Night St. John’s march raises awareness about gender inequality, sexual violence, and how the justice system fails survivors of sexual assault. The first Take Back The Night St. John’s march, organized in 1978, was a small but controversial women’s only event.

Since then the march has grown, in recent years between 400 and 500 hundred participants have taken to the streets for Take Back The Night St. John’s. Organizers of the event say that their understanding of gender and sexual violence has evolved along with the march, making them realize that a women’s only event is too exclusionary and does not reflect the needs of the community.

They wish to acknowledge that all marginalized genders experience higher levels of sexual violence, discrimination, and secondary wounding than non-marginalized genders.

This year’s march is the first to welcome to all marginalized genders, this includes: female and female-identified, women and women-identified, trans – including trans masculine, trans men, trans women, and trans feminine – non-binary, two-spirit, agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming persons.

“It’s important to know that Take Back The Night is something that evolves and comes out of the needs of the community. Just as our understanding of gender and sexual violence has grown and changed, so has the movement of Take Back The Night.

“Marginalized genders experience higher levels of domestic violence and sexual violence than non-marginalized genders and we’ve embraced that issue in the march,” Nicole Kieley, Executive Director of NLSACPC.

Marchers are welcome to have their children and/or dependants march with them.

Cis men are asked not attend the Take Back The Night St. John’s march, but to show their support by attending the Men’s Outreach Committee’s concurrent event and the candle lit vigil. The Men’s Outreach Committee is composed of allies of the NLSACPC, they recognize that the majority of perpetrators of sexual violence are men. A large part of their work is creating initiatives and programs that address the root causes of sexual violence by educating men.

The Men’s Outreach Committee are hosting a film screening that will begin at 6:30pm at City Hall on the night of the march. They will be screening a series of short films about men’s role in feminism followed by a moderated discussion. This event is free of charge and refreshments will be provided.

The NLSACPC welcomes new individuals to the Take Back The Night St. John’s march and strives to make the event as accessible as possible. There will be interpreting services and accessible transportation available during the march.

Safety marshals and trained crisis line volunteers will be established throughout the march and present after the event. Kieley says the NLSACPC recognizes the importance of self-care and would like people thinking about attending the march for the first time to know that there will be some supports in place.