The Week — May 12

Victoria preps to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, free education creeps through the cracks and Victoria Cool Aid Society proves homelessness matters to the city

Men will be strutting their best high heels on Saturday, May 14, as all Victoria residents join in to “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

Victoria shines up ‘her’ shoes

Get the polish, men — it’s time to spiff up those sexy leather, er, heels?

You heard right. Men (and women, and kids, actually) from all over the city will be pulling on those walking boots this Saturday, May 14, to join the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre and “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” an event aimed at raising awareness around sexualized violence, and stomping stigmas into the pavement — or at least showing hundreds of men it is possible to put yourself, literally, in someone else’s shoes to show support.

“It’s really important that we as a community come together in solidarity and break the silence around sexualized violence,” says Lenore Kennedy, VWSAC’s resource development officer and a coordinator of the event. “The shoes are meant to add an air of lightness to an event that could be really heavy for a lot of people. It’s not meant to be funny, so much as fun. And it makes people stop and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’”

The event started in California in 2001, but has been happening in Victoria for the last five years. Last year, while 68 people signed up for the event, nearly 500 people attended the walk and raised over $36,000 — all of it going to VWSAC. This year, the group is aiming for $40,000, and Kennedy says she has a good feeling: already 78 people and 12 teams registered as of press time, including a team from Monday. One anonymous local couple even pledged to match all funds (dollar-for-dollar) up to $28,000.

For those new to flouncing in high heels, Kennedy says the technique is easy: heel-toe, heel-toe. In case it doesn’t work out so well, there will be first aid on site, as well as extra shoes for those who couldn’t convince a female friend for a borrow. This year the event will also showcase a list of speakers, door prizes and information tables.

“This really is an event for everyone, no matter what shoes you wear,” says Kennedy. “It’s shocking to me to realize how many people’s lives have been affected by sexualized violence, and this really is our chance to show survivors we haven’t forgotten about them, and to say to our community, ‘This is not OK.’”

The event starts and ends at Centennial Square, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. To learn more, visit walkamilevictoria.com. To donate to the “Manic Mondays” team, visit http://bit.ly/mEINBP.

Creeping through the cracks

Who said there’s no such thing as a free education? From May 13 to 15, anyone in the Victoria area will have access to free classes, free lunch, free advice — and it’s all brought to you through the “Cracks in the Concrete” anti-poverty teach-in/learn-in.

The event is aimed at all levels of the community, from service providers and advocates to the poverty stricken, politicians, workers and privileged citizens hoping to learn more — and even have an impact — on how poverty affects our city.

“We really wanted this type of learning to be accessible to everyone, but what makes this event so unconventional is that we’ve worked with a really tight budget — less than $3,000 — and yet we’ve been granted the space and resources to open this up to everyone,” says Tamara Herman of the Victoria Coalition Against Poverty, and one of the organizers of the event.

The group has brought in speakers, professors, legal experts and political gurus, including those from B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre Power of Women Group, Purple Thistle, Action Committee of People with Disabilities and Harm Reduction Victoria. Workshops will cover topics around alternative education, guerrilla art, health, internet security, radical environmentalism and even making the most of student loans.

“B.C. has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country, which makes sense with the low wages and high costs of living,” says Herman. “But the idea is to reach out and show people there really is something you can do — whether that’s helping yourself, or helping someone else.”

For a full schedule and list of locations, visit cracksintheconcrete.org.

Cool Aid proves victoria cares

The Victoria Cool Aid Society has released the results from its March survey on the impact of homelessness, and the city has spoken: residents and businesses alike are affected. While that’s not exactly news, what is interesting is that 27 per cent of residents believed homelessness has an above-average impact on them, while 43 per cent of businesses reported an above-average impact.

However, even though Cool Aid has been offering services in Victoria since 1968, only 45 per cent of businesses believed Cool Aid makes any difference, while 68 per cent of residents thought it did. As to why people get involved, 52 per cent deeply care about homelessness, 27 per cent think it’s a good idea, 11 per cent know someone affected, and 11 per cent have been affected themselves.

To read the full survey performed by McAllister Media, visit CoolAid.org/survey. M

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