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Rehtaeh Parsons

For Her We Speak: An Evening to End Violence Against Women and Girls

September 19, 2016

Sheridan College, Halton Women’s Place and Nicolette Little Team Up to Raise Violence Awareness – and Funds for the Region’s Only Women’s Shelter

Rehtaeh Parsons’ tragic story is known across Canada. After she was allegedly sexually assaulted at a party in 2013, the Nova Scotia teen faced months of bullying and “slut shaming” from peers. She died by suicide 17 months later. 

Halton Women’s Place (HWP) women’s shelter, Sheridan College and PhD researcher Nicolette Little have teamed up to bring Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, to Oakville. On October 13th, at 7pm, Parsons will speak at Sheridan College about the consequences of sexual assault, “victim blaming” and related teen bullying, as well as the importance of supporting victims with kindness and care. The event is named “For Her We Speak:” while many victims of violence against women and girls (VAWG) feel silenced by stigma, bullying or our criminal justice system, this event gives voice to the 1 in 4 Canadian women who report facing violence – most frequently at the hands of something they know (“Sexual Assault Statistics,” 2016; Canadian Centre for Justice, n.d.).

Other speakers include MP Pam Damoff, Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for the Status of Women, who will speak about the Canadian government’s increased role in fighting VAWG. Sheridan President Dr. Jeff Zabudsky will also discuss Sheridan’s commitment to anti-violence. A Q&A period will follow, with Parsons, MP Damoff, gender studies experts at Sheridan College and members of Sheridan’s newly-minted Sexual Assault Task Force as panelists.

For Her We Speak was conceived by Little, who is researching Leah Parsons’ “memory stone” art for her PhD dissertation. Parsons began painting Nova Scotian beach stones after Rehtaeh’s death, and placed them around her community for others to find. The stones are painted with vibrant natural scenes and include Rehtaeh’s birth and death dates, and anti-violence messages. Little, as researcher, is a recipient of one of Leah’s art pieces, and hopes to share its messages with others. Stephanie Samboo, an Associate Dean with Sheridan’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, adds, “We see this event, and Leah’s message, as critical for both our students and our community. We look forward to having Oakville and surrounding community residents join us October 13th.” Little adds, “Sheridan College and Halton Women’s Place were natural choices for me as co-organizers for this event. I’ve worked on HWP’s Hope in High Heels event for years, and this shelter does a lot to support survivors in our communities. Sheridan College has also taken on amazing anti-violence initiatives in recent years.”  

For Her We Speak is free to students. For other attendees, tickets can be acquired with a minimum $10 donation via Eventbrite. All proceeds support HWP, our region’s only women’s shelter, and the Rehtaeh Parsons Society.

For sponsorship information or to donate, please contact Nicolette Little at wordsbynic@gmail.com or Carm Bozzo at cbozzo@haltonwomensplace.com.
Media inquiries can be directed to Nicolette Little, wordsbynic@gmail.com or 647-896-7734.

Pictured at top of page: Rehtaeh Parsons and "memory stone" art by her mother Leah Parsons.