A woman with tears in her eyes behind a white cloth

Image via Luis Galvez on Unsplash

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign returns to VIU this year.

The United Nations Campaign, which is marking 30 years, runs from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, until December 10, World Human Rights Day. It promotes awareness of violence against women, children, and gender-diverse people while also helping drive people to action.

Dr. Melissa Stephens, the Chair for the Vancouver Island University Faculty Association (VIUFA) Status of Women Committee, said, “[We’ve] talked a lot historically about the importance of knowing more and [doing] better, and that continues to be true. But I’m really hearing organizations talk a lot more about action and not just words.”

The 16 Days of Activism formally kicked off with A Time to Stand in Unity at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon on November 25. The event, hosted by the Indigenous-Informed Sexual Assault Program, remembered all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

That same day, the Bastion was formally lit orange by the Canadian Federation of University Women Nanaimo during the annual “Oranging the Bastion” on November 25. The colour orange represents a future without violence. The Nanaimo campus quad is also being lit orange and displaying a banner in support of the Campaign.

Last year, the Status of Women Committee started a video campaign sharing videos related to gender-based violence in place of an in-person event.

“I think it’s helpful to see people’s faces right now,” Stephens said. “We’re all separated, right? And it would be nice to see what’s going on on the screen.”

This year, organizations are asked to talk about a service they provide or an issue connected to the topic. People are engaging with the content: Haven Society’s “Signs of Abuse” video has gotten the highest number of views so far.

“It’s not directly linked to action, but I think it can encourage more action when people are learning more specific things about the topic and even about services that are around us,” Stephens said.

VIU will host a vigil at 10 am on December 6th to commemorate the victims of the École Polytechnique Massacre in 1989.

Unlike last year, the event will be in-person. It will begin with a prayer and speeches at Malaspina Theatre, followed by an activity. Participants will then walk to the Jardin des Quatorze for a vigil and a moment of silence, though the fresh fallen snow and slippery conditions may affect the walk. Masks are required inside, and vaccine cards will be required if attendance exceeds 50.

There will also be two Zoom events that week. On December 9th, podcaster Laura Palmer will discuss the first season of her podcast Island Crime, on the unsolved disappearance of Lisa Marie Young, and what she has learned about the investigation.

The event is open to students, faculty, and the public. The event will take place 7-8:30 pm and be followed by an open Q&A session. To register, click here.

And on December 10th, Nanaimo Women Helping Women founder and Certified Sexual Health Educator Kerri Isham will host the Talking about Sex Trafficking Webinar for Human Rights Day from 1-3 pm, in partnership with the VIU Students’ Union. This event is only open to faculty and students. To register, click here.

For more information on the 16 Days of Activism campaign, to learn more about the organizations and upcoming events, or to watch the videos, visit the VIUFA Status of Women Facebook page.



Sophia is a fourth-year Creative Writing and Journalism student. She was the News Editor for The Navigator last year. Outside of The Nav, Sophia volunteers with VIU Cultural Connections as a Peer Helper. Three things she wants to do in the future are: travel to Japan and Korea, attend a Stray Kids concert, and adopt one or two black cats.

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