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It snowed, it was windy, and then sunny, but that didn’t stop the participants of Hollaback Alberta’s first chalk walk event to commemorate International Anti-Street Harassment Week organized by Stop Street Harassment. The chalk walk took place on the sidewalks of Whyte Avenue between 104th street and approximately 108th street on both the westbound and eastbound sides of the street the afternoon of April 18th, 2015.
Many people stopped to read the messages.
We overheard people saying: “That happened to me!”
And others replying with a surprised: “Really? That’s awful!”
Some people even asked to join us and wrote their own messages of support and positivity.
A really great discussion began on social media sites with people using the #WhyteChalkWalk and #endSHweek hashtags. People were taking photos and posting how the chalked messages made them feel, some even saying that they “felt safer already”. Some also started the very important discussion about the potential for chalk walks to be triggering. We encouraged people to express themselves freely and respectfully, and the vast majority of the chalk walk was filled with phrases like “Safe Spaces for All!”, “Stop Homophobia/Transphobia!”, “Stop Telling Women to Smile”, “Catcalls aren’t compliments!”, and “Please respect!”. However it is always a tricky balance: we do not want to silence those who wish to express their experiences and we also do not want to trigger those who are not expecting explicit details in public spaces. What we learned from our first chalk walk is that we will keep our message the same: that street harassment is a form of disrespect and violence and that it does occur in Edmonton. However, in public spaces we will keep our written statements as broad and positive as possible with information of where people can learn about incidences of street harassment or report their own.
Thank you to all who supported the event, locally and globally, and to everyone who contributed to an important conversation about street harassment!
Big thanks to CBC Radio Edmonton for having us on the morning show on Friday April 17th.
Thank you to CBC Télé Edmonton for the live coverage of the event on April 18th!
Check out photos from EndSHweek events around the world, and our photos of the Edmonton event below:
“Actually you don’t know I want it.”
Big thanks to our Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton support person, Shannah, who was a total rockstar during the event!
We had PC candidate Shelley Wegner (above) join the chalk walk and write a message of her own. Street harassment is an issue regardless of the political party you support!
Street harassment affects people of all ages!
Above: The end of a long line that demonstrated how long a person was followed.
The post above is specifically dedicated to all the missing and murdered Indigenous women, children, and two-spirit folks, as well as all the Indigenous people who are harassed on Treaty 6 territory. Racist comments or actions in public spaces is street harassment, and it needs to stop. Get informed and involved here: Amnesty No More Stolen Sisters Campaign, Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, and CBC Aboriginal.
Ever sick of people telling you to “smile”? Check out the amazing Stop Telling Women To Smile art project!!
Above: a few of the event organizers: Renee and Marlaena!
It’s International Anti-Street Harassment Week April 12-18th, 2015!
International Anti-Street Harassment Week is a program of Stop Street Harassment, a team of activists led by Holly Kearl and Britnae Purdy. Check out what is going on around the world on the Meet Us On The Streets website!
Hollaback Alberta is hosting an event on Saturday, April 18th from 1pm-4pm at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park (Gazebo Park) for a Chalk Walk in honour of International Street Harassment Week (April 12-April 18).
The event aims to be a non-oppressive, inclusive, and safe event for people to come and join in a peaceful walk along Whyte Ave. During our walk, we will be using chalk to write messages of hope, anti-oppression, and to share our stories along the way. Click here for the Facebook event details!
The walk will begin at 1:30pm from Dr. McIntyre Park and proceed south to Whyte Ave. We will then move West down Whyte Ave, stopping at designated stops. Once we reach 109th Street we will move East back down Whyte Ave. Our last stop will be the corner of Gateway Blvd and Whyte Ave (outside Hudson’s), then we will head back to Dr. McIntyre Park. The detailed map is below:
One day after work, I got off the bus, and went to the store to buy a few things. When I entered the store, I heard a whistle. Then I heard an elderly woman who worked there told the guy “[his name] that wasn’t nice.”
I walked towards the aisle that I wanted to purchase food from. While I was walking, I thought to myself what was that? why did he whistle? Did he whistle at me or was there something else? Then I realized I was the only one that came in through the door, nothing else was going on there. It must have been towards me. When I returned to the payment area, I was not sure which guy whistled, because I really wanted to go and talk to that person. This was the first time that something like that happened to me, and I could not believe that such guys/men could behave like that. At the time I was taking a women and politics course; I had watched videos and listened to stories, but I had never been through such an experience myself.
As far as I am aware, such behaviour and other verbal comments are not criminalized in Canada. I hope, it will be considered a crime and dealt with by the law. Because, If I see something like this again, I will react and make sure they remember it.
On an almost empty train, a man walked the length of the car to sit across from me. I took my book and began reading it. He said something about how it was embarrassing that I was reading just as he sat down. I said my choices had nothing to do with him. He started asking me personal questions and leaning towards me. I told him “I don’t want to talk” three times, and he got off the train.
I didn’t want to share myself with him by smiling, apologizing, engaging or answering his questions. It frustrated me that he had control, and could have stayed or followed me, but I’m glad I was assertive.
A few weekends ago I was on Jasper ave around 9pm. I had just gotten off at the Corona LRT station and I was walking to my friends apartment about 5 minutes away. As soon as I walked up to the street, there were a few men standing around. I kept walking and didn’t pay any attention to them. One of them, who was carrying a large bag, started walking behind me. I kept walking faster. He then started to yell at me. “Hey! What are you doing tonight? You free tonight? Damn baby you look good?” I didn’t look back and kept walking as fast as I could, hoping he would get the message that I was not interested. I came to a cross walk and had to stop because of traffic. The man caught up to me, so as soon as there were no more cars, I crossed the street. The man caught up to me just as I was stepping onto the curb and he grabbed my arm and I tripped. My tights were ripped and my knee was dripping with blood. I told him to F off! He then asked me if I needed any of his polysporin… He crossed the street and I ran into the nearest store and called my friend to come meet me and walk me back to his place. About an hour later, me and my friend were walking back that same way and the man was still out there. He said “Hey baby, make sure you don’t fall again!” I was lucky that he didn’t seriously hurt me. The picture is what my knee looked like the next day. Not very cute.
In a recent video, local Edmonton musician and total badass Marlaena Moore released a video excitedly explaining her response to an incident of street harassment she experienced in Edmonton, AB. Marlaena calls for people to call out their catcallers, emphasizing when it is safe to do so. Also note that Marlaena confronted her harassers in a way she was most comfortable. Calling out or confronting a harasser can take many forms and it is important to make sure that you are safe if you chose to do so. That being said, it can be incredibly empowering to flip the power dynamic and have a harasser reflect on their actions. The following video is a great example of this:
At around 11:45pm last night, I was crossing the street & a car didn’t slow down for me. If I hadn’t stopped in the middle of the road, it probably would have hit me. I gave a sarcastic wave and continued on my way- my house was less than a block away. As I walked up to my front door, I heard someone yell, “hey!” I turned around and a dude in a car yelled, “Sorry for cutting you off back there.” Even though he was apologizing, I was really uncomfortable with the fact that he had circled around and followed me home to do so. I felt super weird and all I could stammer out was, “Oh, it happens.” I appreciate that he felt the need to say sorry, but the way it happened did not make me feel any better.
I was coming home from school one day and I was waiting for the train. When I entered the train station there was a group of 15 men, they all stopped their conversation and stared at me. Creeped out I just kept walked away from them, I had a rough day and wanted to be alone so I walked out onto the platform where very few others were because it was so cold. A man approached me alone (one of the guys from the group) and said “I’d offer you a smoke or something else but you’re too athletic and beautiful to do drugs.” I gave him a tight lip smile and looked away because I felt uncomfortable with the comment. He was agitated that I didn’t respond. He aggressively said “Come on baby. Smile!” With a stern look. I still ignored him, at this point 5-7 of the other guys he was with before walked up. One of them said “If it wasn’t so f*ckin cold, I’d f*ck the sh*t out of that b*tch. right here. right. now.” he gave me a very serious death stare and kept strong eye contact, his friends laughed and agreed. The rest of them also gave me a death stare, They tried to get me to get on the train headed to downtown with them. I didn’t know what to do so I just nodded. I pretended I was getting on the same train, but instead when they all were on I quickly hid behind a sign until the train left, less than a minuet later my train came and I headed home. I’ve never been so grateful for -25C weather. I am mortified of taking public transport, but I take it to and from school everyday. I miss a day of school a week because I’m too scared to take transit.
Surprisingly as they threatened me I didn’t freak out, I was unnervingly calm. I just gave them the death stare back, I was so befuddled and shocked that those things actually left someones mouth I had no clue how to respond.