If all goes according to plan, the Bracebridge Bay area will soon be home to a permanent memorial to Muskoka victims of domestic violence.
“One in three women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime,” says Lauren Power, the executive director of Muskoka Parry Sound Coordinated Sexual Assualt Services.
Power recently approached Bracebridge Town council on behalf of the Ignite Project, with a proposal to install a stone memorial on the Bracebridge Bay side of Wharf Road.
“It’s designed to create a public space that recognizes the widespread social issue of violence against women and widen awareness of local programs and services available, as well as lend strength to prevention and change,” she says.
Project Ignite has its roots in a tragedy that struck the Bracebridge community three years ago. In 2013, Nipissing student Lindsay Wilson was murdered at her Bracebridge home by a former partner.
The crime made national news and spurred students and staff at Nippissing’s Muskoka campus to take action.
Two Nipissing students – Kirsten Nicolson and Avery Saunter – along with instructor Lynn Decaro designed the Ignite logo. They envisioned it as a child, an adult and an elderly woman, says Power.
“They wanted the monument to be made of Muskoka granite, to symbolize women’s strength in facing the forces against her,” she says. “They saw the words ‘Ignite to raise hope’ as inspiring change.”
The rock to be used for the project is being donated by Algonquin Stone and they have also offered to donate their carving expertise.
Power says other community members have offered to donate their time to help install the memorial. As such, the installation would come at no cost to taxpayers and upkeep for a granite memorial would be minimal.
Talks about the project have been ongoing since 2013 but hit unexpected stumbling blocks due to the closure of Nippising’s Muskoka Campus and flooding in the preferred area of the memorial marker.
However, on Dec. 13 the town’s general committee formally agreed to proceed with the memorial along Bracebridge Bay.
Although there were concerns expressed by some councillors as to the location of the memorial, they ultimately voted unanimously to proceed.
Mayor Graydon Smith said he was wholly supportive of the project.
“We want to be as front and center as possible with the notion that violence against women is unacceptable and to remember those who have been victimized,” says Smith.
Power says etching will begin immediately and she’s optimistic they can have the memorial installed in spring of 2017.
“Just as we honour the courage of other heroes publicly, we need to also honour women who face violence in their lives. The public space will also create a meaningful gathering place for events to take place, such as rallies, or walks to end violence,” she says. “Often women who face sexual or intimate partner violence feel isolated and alone, and creating this public space shows women there is support available and that others experience violence.”