Rona Building Supplies employee, Jen, displays a box of purple lights for sale to residents or businesses in Powell River who want to support the Purple Light Nights Campaign.
It may be in its first year, but the Purple Light Nights Campaign is catching on in Powell River – just take a look around. There are bright purple lights draped across City Hall, stretched along the City works yard, hanging from the top of the RCMP building on Barnet St., and soon you’ll see the familiar purple lights on display during the Santa Parade on December 6th.
The bright purple lights are to raise awareness about domestic violence. “It is a campaign to shine a light on a dark subject,” said Maureen MacLennan, Powell River Stopping the Violence Outreach Coordinator.
“The Purple Light Nights Campaign is to help bring awareness and provide support and hope to victims of domestic abuse,” Maureen said. “Putting up a string or two of purple lights is an effective and gentle way to get neighbours talking about an issue that for too long has been either ignored or downplayed.”
Poverty, alcohol, addiction, loss of employment, lack of affordable housing and inadequate life skills to cope with an overload of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical exhaustion all contribute to the problems that lead to domestic violence, or violence of any kind, Maureen said. “Unless individuals are willing to acknowledge there is a problem, it will remain hidden and unaddressed.”
In Powell River more than 50 women and 30 children made use of Grace House, Powell River’s transition home for victims of abuse. “We tend to look at the beautiful trails around town, the gorgeous sunsets and all the wonderful things Powell River has to offer. What we don’t talk about and what we don’t see are the drugs, alcohol abuse, rapes and domestic violence; the underbelly of Powell River.”
Purple Light Nights originated in King County, Washington in 2006. The colour purple was chosen as it represents the Purple Heart medal that soldiers receive when wounded while serving their country. Recognizing that victims of domestic violence are also wounded – emotionally, mentally and physically – the colour purple represents a symbol of courage, endurance and survival.
The Purple Light Nights campaign coincides with the 16 Days of Action Against Gender Based Violence and runs from November 25th through December 6th. “Which we will remember as the day when 14 women were murdered at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal,” Maureen said. “The 16 Days Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.”
What has started out as a small campaign has grown exponentially. “It is so good to see people getting on board,” Maureen said. “It’s time to be more than a bystander. It’s important to get this message out.”