Over the 5 years I have been in leadership of Take Back the Night, I have never experienced the planning committee and the event in the way I did this year. I believe it was the leadership and guidance of Indigenous women and 2 Spirit People who changed the way we do Take Back the Night. I also believe that Take Back the Night changed because settlers weren’t running the show like in the 32 previous years, and that shifted the way settlers experienced Take Back the Night and the event’s ability to create awareness around sexual violence.
Many people came up to me after this year’s event and said it felt “different.” Some people didn’t feel they could take on the same roles as previous years and some felt they couldn’t take up the same space. There were changes to Take Back the Night traditions, like Wendo ending the rally with chants, and Elders and Drummers walking with women who use mobility devices this year, instead of these women solely leading the march. Another clear difference this year was men being invited to march with us, for the first time in 33 years of Take Back the Night.
Take Back the Night, in my mind, has a particular formula that I have repeated in some aspects year after year. This year, the differences were sure. So when we decided to honour and reclaim self-determination of Indigenous Peoples this year, our ways, including our ways of doing, had to come into question and things had to change.
For me, the questions were: is Take Back the Night really a tool Indigenous people can use to end sexual violence in their own communities? Did Take Back the Night reinforce colonization in its pre-set ways? Do settlers have all the control of Take Back the Night as an event, and does that make it inherently colonial? How can we decolonize Take Back the Night?(more inside…)