The 2019 Purple Light Nights (PLN) campaign kicked off in Chilliwack Oct. 1 with a tree-lighting ceremony at the local RCMP detachment on Airport Road.
But the focus of the PLN organizing committee has gone far beyond that for 2019.
The entire month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and several new purple-related events are being rolled out in the coming weeks by the creative organizing committee.
“Intimate partner violence is a silent crime that affects people from all walks of life, backgrounds, ages, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status,” said RCMP Cpl. Samara Bilmer of the Chilliwack RCMP.
The officer sits on the PLN committee with other community partners, as well as the Violence Against Women in Relationships committee, which brought PLN to Chilliwack in 2006.
“This type of crime doesn’t happen in public places so people don’t realize how frequently it occurs,” Bilmer said. “It’s not in people’s faces, and if it’s not in front of them, they don’t tend to think about it, or care.”
But the long-term traumatizing effects on children “are staggering,” and on communities as a whole, so the message to survivors or those dealing with family violence with these events is that they are truly seen and heard.
The string of purple lights outside the entrance to the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment of the RCMP in Chilliwack is a reminder that this violence has no place in the community, that there is something survivors can do about it, and serve as a tribute to those who’ve been killed or injured.
“It allows victims to know that they are not alone, they will be believed and they have the support of their community behind them,” Cpl. Bilmer said. “That allows survivors to be empowered, to have choices and to know what to expect.”
As one of the Chilliwack RCMP officers who deals with “K” files as they’re referred to in the court system, Cpl. Bilmers said intimate partner violence is often a “silent” crime because people don’t think, or talk about it unless someone ends up killed by their partner.
This year there are several Chilliwack events planned to really reinforce the community-wide message of zero tolerance, and they are hoping more men will show up, since typically it is mainly women who attend.
“It’s upsetting that only 50 per cent of the population are engaged in the struggle,” Bilmer said, adding that they added events this year to appeal to a broader audience, including a Pull-Up Competition in the Cottonwood Mall parking lot on Oct. 19 at noon, and a Bakery Bake-Off with purple treats.
“We’re hard-pressed to find men who don’t care about these issues, but public advocacy is another thing. So we’re working toward changing that,” Bilmer added.
For more on PLN and its beginnings in 2006 in Washington State, go to www.purplelightnights.org.
Here is a list of local events:
• Bakery Bake-off Competition – October 1 to 31 – hosted by the PLN committee challenges local bakeries and culinary schools to create a baking item decorated in the PLN colour of purple. Entries will be posted online with the best decorated baking item determined by public vote. Follow the bake-off at Purple Light Nights Chilliwack on Facebook and Instagram. To enter send a photo of your baking item before September 28 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Stand Up Against Violence towards Women hosted by Cheam First Nation, with Chilliwack RCMP and Ending Violence Association of BC, in the first ever Indigenous Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Event featuring keynote speaker J.R. Larose, retired CFL BC Lions player, 2011 Grey Cup Champion, Be More Than a Bystander rep, and proud Indigenous ambassador.
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Place: Cheam First Nation Hall, 52161 Victor Drive.
• Charity Movie Night hosted by Cottonwood 4 Cinemas featuring Maple: A Documentary, film that details the 2011 murder of 19 year old Maple Batalia — the victim of intimate partner violence. Maple’s best friends will be speaking to the audience.
Date: Thursday, Oct. 17.
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Cottonwood 4 Cinemas
45380 Luckakuck Way.
• First Ever Pull-Up Competition and BBQ – Who will be crowned Chilliwack Pull-Up Champion? Challenge local first responders and more to the first ever PLN pull-up event and barbecue. The rules say the pull-up must be underhand grip, with chin lifted past the bar. Rain or shine.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 19 at noon.
Place: Cottonwood Mall parking lot.