Trying to tackle an underlying issue of violence and sexual violence, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre focuses on respect.
To that end, the annual Respect Day celebration took over Red Deer City Hall park Friday afternoon.
“We want the community to come together and make a statement about respect,” said Particia Arango, CASAC executive director. “We want a respectful community. This is the only way we can end domestic violence and sexual assault.
“If I talk to people about sexual assault, they don’t want to talk. But if I walk with them about respect, they want to talk.”
It’s Arango’s way of sending the message of ending sexual violence in a positive way, by respecting each other.
The celebration featured Latin flavoured music, traditional aboriginal drum circle and fancy dancers, dignitary speeches and a barbecue.
The provincial government proclaimed May as Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
Arango said the celebration was a way to invite the community to understand that respect is more than a word, but it is a commitment and responsibility.
“We are different and what we have in common is that we are human beings,” said Arango. “We have to live with the differences and that is respect.”
The CASAC has been running its iRespect challenge for a few years now, which focuses on creative positive changes in the hopes that violence in general will be eliminated.
Adorning the area surrounding the celebration were signs that read iRespect and each with a different term for what someone respects.
About 75 to 100 people packed into the small area in front of City Hall’s doors onto the adjacent park.
“We’re getting bigger and bigger,” said Arango. “Having the food and the music motivates them, but I want more people coming.”