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Why do words matter?

As Submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, November 28th, 2014 by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education

Yukon women’s groups are, once again, running a 12-day campaign to end violence against women from November 25 to December 5. This year’s theme, Call it what it is, addresses the issue of language use and how it can affect our perceptions of and responses to violence against women.

Violence against women is happening every day. In the media, and in our day-to-day lives, we may hear incidents described in ways that normalize and conceal the act of violence or assault. The goal of this year’s 12 Days to End Violence Against Women Campaign is to raise awareness around the reality of violence against women in our territory, change the way people perceive and respond to it, and make people think about the words they are using.

This is why the Yukon government, through the work of various departments, is examining its approach and the language we use in order to improve our collective response to victims. We recognise that our response matters, and we are committed to reviewing and improving our coordinated effort to address and prevent violence in our community.

The 12 Days campaign also offers men a chance to step up and pledge to end violence in their own life, community and territory. In fact, the White Ribbon Yukon campaign runs parallel to the 12 Days. White Ribbon positively engages men, young men and boys through relevant educational programming that challenges language and behaviours, as well as harmful ideas of manhood that lead to violence against women. The group invites individuals from across the territory to make a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. You can find out more about their work by visiting whiteribbonyukon.

A ceremony will take place on December 5 at noon at the Elijah Smith Building in Whitehorse for the National Day of Commemoration and Action to End Violence against Women. Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre and Les EssentiELLES organize the ceremony annually to remember the 14 young women who were killed in 1989’s Montreal Massacre, the hundreds of aboriginal women who have gone missing and been murdered, as well as all the women who continue to live with violence. The ceremony’s partners include Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle, Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council, Yukon Status of Women Council and White Ribbon Yukon with funding from Yukon government’s Women’s Directorate.

All events during the 12 Days campaign are free and everyone is welcome. For a complete schedule of events, go to Victoria Faulkner’s Facebook page. For more information about stopping family violence, I encourage you to visit www.bettertoknow.yk.ca/stopfamilyviolence.

Elaine Taylor

Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate

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