Honouring our Stories
On April 5 at 7:30 pm the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre, in partnership with the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Community Story Strategies and Thunder Bay Police invites you to attend the Opening Reception for the Honouring Our Stories Exhibition at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. This powerful collection of art and digital stories represents the culmination of a two year creative process that brought together women, artists and police to talk, make art and tell their stories about experiencing and responding to violence in their own words.
Honouring Our Stories is an art and community-based project that centres the resilience, dignity and human rights of women surviving sexual violence. Our aim is to deepen understanding and engage both the public and police in a joint effort to reframe the community conversation on sexual violence in Thunder Bay. Our project is funded by the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Women’s Directorate Creative Engagement Fund to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment.
Sexual violence is pervasive in our society and takes many forms: rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment. It is inextricably linked to and perpetuated by gender and race inequity in our society. National victimization surveys indicate that crimes of violence against women are typically not reported to police. Statistics Canada concludes that just 30% of women assaulted by intimate partners and less than 10% of those who were sexually assaulted reported these crimes to police. One in three women will experience some form of sexual assault in her lifetime and one in five women will be assaulted while attending a post-secondary institution. Indigenous women are 3.5 times more likely to experience sexual violence than non-Indigenous women. Young women are most at risk: the rate of sexual assault against women aged 18 to 24 is two to four times higher than for women over 25. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that sexual violence is everywhere, women are still routinely blamed for either inviting it or not avoiding it. In order to confront these misconceptions and make those that perpetrate violence accountable, we need to address the power differentials that allow violence to persist.
Art and personal narrative have the ability to shape conversations, engage, educate and inform responses to sexual violence in our community. Personal narratives are powerful and can speak directly from one person to another across differences of identity and social position. In the HOS digital stories, our participants speak their truth to power and invite us to change the way we see the world. When we believe survivors, survivors can believe in themselves.
The Honouring Our Stories Exhibition will be available for viewing March 31st until May 13th, 2018 at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery (Hours Tues-Thurs 12 pm until 8pm; Fri-Sun 12 pm until 5 pm). Facilitated tours and presentations are available for groups if booked in advance.
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