Survivor solidarity walk for victims of sexual assault takes place in Kahnawake
MONTREAL -- Following similar sit-ins, walks, and protests across Quebec and the country, a survivor solidarity walk for victims of sexual assault and abuse took place in the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake Thursday night.
The walk comes on the heels of a series of anonymous accusations on Twitter in the past two weeks naming alleged perpetrators of sexual assault, misconduct and rape in Kahnawake and Akwesasne.
The original Twitter account was removed and another has been created.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake issued a joint statement with the Kahnawake Peacekeepers, hospital and social services in the community acknowledging the accounts and offering support services for victims.
Peacekeeper spokesperson Kyle Zachary said the force has received more than a dozen assault or misconduct complaints since the Twitter account began posting stories. Officers are investigating not only those assault complaints, but also one complaining about the Twitter account itself.
Zachary himself led the walk in a police cruiser up the Old Malone Highway.
Many who attended the walk wore teal to match the sexual assault awareness ribbons typically worn in April: Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
"It's important for everyone to voice their concerns," said Iohserenhawi Beauvais. "Offering a safe space for people who've felt ashamed to talk about their experiences is the most important part."
Zach Goodleaf's mother Michelle went public in the local Eastern Door newspaper in 2017 with her story of sexual assault as a child. He walked alongside her.
"Staying silent and ignoring the issue is easy," he said. "Standing up and coming together to address it is what's right. Will this walk end sexual abuse? No, but it's a damn good place to start."
The last week has been an emotional one for those in the community who read the stories of abuse, which were often allegedly committed by people they know. McComber said it was heartbreaking to read the names of people she knew on the Twitter account, but she also knows it has helped victims to heal.
"It's all triggers," said McComber. "It triggered a lot of people, but it's also triggered a lot of people to get help, professional help."
McComber said friends have reached out to her and other survivors with stories, and she hopes the voices can lead to real change in her community.
"Most of these girls, whether they can come forward or not, it's about making sure their voices are heard, and they're believed," said McComber.