In just a few days New Westminster residents will notice local business areas lighting up purple. That’s because April 19-23 is the 2nd Annual Purple Light Nights campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.
The campaign was started last year by the New Westminster Community Action Committee for Women who Experience Violence (CAC), a group made up of representatives from the community organizations who work with women experiencing abuse.
Why purple? According to Lorrie Wasyliw, Executive Director of Monarch Place Transition House and Co-Chair of the New West CAC, purple is internationally recognized as a symbol of the struggle against domestic violence. The idea for Purple Night Lights comes from a US event that happens every October.
Each year, 20,000 women in BC will experience violence (Statistics Canada), and almost half have children who will also be exposed. A study by Sociologist Jillian Riddington revealed that more women are injured or killed by physical abuse than by automobile accidents, muggings, and rapes combined, yet many people underestimate the seriousness of the crime and its social and economic impact on our community.
“Knowledge can help communities support women, youth, and children who experience violence, and prevent tragedies,” says Wasyliw.
That’s why the CAC is so excited to see the expanded recognition of the campaign already this year. They’ve already got a banner hanging outside the offices of the Family Services of Greater Vancouver on 6th Street, and organizer Roshni Vedamanikam pointed out that purple lights will be hanging at City Hall and Mayor Wayne Wright will be issuing a proclamation to recognize the campaign.
Last year the CAC focused on having businesses on 6th Street take strings of purple lights to hang in their windows to coincide with BC’s Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, but this year other areas are being encouraged to participate and really motivated individuals can take lights for their homes, too.
Business response has been enthusiastic. In addition to returning businesses from last year like Fit on 6th, Cartwright Jewellers, Park Georgia Realty, and Columbia Costume Rental, a lot of new storefronts are on board. Guy Dube, owner of the Coming Home Cafe at 753 6th Street, has organized the 8 businesses on the ground floor of his building to participate. And Burnaby-New Westminster NDP federal candidate Peter Julian will be hanging purple lights in his campaign office on 12th Street.
If you’re interested in participating or know someone who is, the CAC is selling strings of purple lights for $20 (at cost), or you can buy an individual standard-sized purple bulb for $1. Contact Roshni at 604-521-1888 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on getting your lights.