Dozens gather to shine light on Wetaskiwin violence Sept. 21

Dozens gather to shine light on Wetaskiwin violence Sept. 21

No city council members attend vigil in Jubilee Park

By Stu Salkeld The Pipestone Flyer

Depending on whom you ask, Wetaskiwin has a crime problem, or the city’s crime problem is not worse than any other community the same size. However, dozens of people gathered at Jubilee Park Sept. 21 to shine a light on violence.

The “Violence Vigil” was organized by local resident Susan Kokas, who lives in the area near the park and noted during her opening remarks a murder had recently occurred in that area. She said there were many reasons a vigil should be held, among them to shine a light on violence in the community, to remember people who lost their lives and to those who survived.

Kokas noted she herself is a survivor of violence. When she was living in Calgary several years ago, she had been targeted, stalked and attacked.

“I lived in fear for a long time,” said Kokas. She said it’s very likely everyone knows someone who is a survivor of violence.

She said survivors walk a fine line between extremes. “I don’t want to live in fear, but I don’t want to be a vigilante.”

Wetaskiwin NDP MLA Bruce Hinkley spoke briefly, noted Sept. 21 is the International Day of Peace.

Other survivors of violence also spoke, including a young girl who noted her father had been murdered.

Kokas stated she felt community leaders must address violence in Wetaskiwin.

Other speakers pointed out that much could be done to make Wetaskiwin a safer, friendlier community, such as getting to know your neighbours and looking out for each other.

No members of the Wetaskiwin city council were present for the vigil and only one candidate for council, Phil Houle-Gregg, attended.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca