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They were met there by students from Bert Bowes and the Energetic Learning Campus.

The global “My Strength is Not for Hurting” campaign advocates against violence against women, and has been held annually at NPSS for years. This year other schools and members of the community were involved, and former NPSS Principal Daniel Vecchio flew up from Vancouver to speak at the event he started years ago.

“Strangely, it’s because many men are afraid of not being a real man, or not having enough power,” he told the young crowd, “that these men use violence as proof to themselves, and to the men and women around them, that they are tough men.”

However, he says that must be a part of the past, and men and women need to commit to making a change across the board.

“We need to redefine manhood so that men can be both strong, manly and yet gentle,” he explained, “so that men can learn healthy ways to express their emotions, so that men can learn to take full responsibility for raising our children.”

Both he and Fort St. John Women’s Resource Centre representative Emily Goodman explained that violence against women is not just a “women’s” issue, as for the most part, the problem is the abuser’s as well.

“Abuse is not about abuse,” said Goodman. “It’s about power and control. It’s about not being in control of your own life, not knowing how to deal with your own emotions, and feeling entitled to take your anger and frustrations and dissatisfaction out on others – which is wrong.”

She says violence against women will stop when people take responsibility for their own actions, and reach out to others for guidance and support.

Both speakers were met with applause and cheer from the crowd, many wearing t-shirts with “My Strength” slogans. The shirts were available by donation to the Women’s Resource Centre.

Photos of the event are below:

 

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