Published in the February 26, 2019 edition.


WAKEFIELD – March is “White Ribbon Month,” and Wakefield men are being challenged to take an online pledge to fight gender-based violence and domestic violence.

Representatives of the Wakefield Alliance Against Violence (WAAV) were at last night’s Town Council meeting to talk about this year’s third annual local observance of White Ribbon Month.

According to the movement’s official web site, “White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy
relationships and a new vision of masculinity. Since its inception in Toronto in 1991, The White Ribbon Campaign has spread to over 60 countries around the world. White Ribbon asks men to wear white ribbons as a sign of their pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”

Locally, White Ribbon Month is being organized and promoted by WAAV. Members of the board of directors appeared before the Town Council last night to talk about the month-long observance, which will culminate with a special White Ribbon Event at 7 p.m. on March 26 at The Savings Bank Theater.

Appearing before the Town Council last night were WAAV board members Merry Eldridge, Bob Eldridge, Catherine Dhingra, Nancy Cicia, Jeff Cicia and Police Chief Rick Smith.

Merry Eldridge explained the origins of the White Ribbon Movement in Canada. She said that the movement was started by a group of Montreal men in 1991 on the second anniversary of the “Montreal Massacre,” where a 25-year-old man slaughtered 14 women at an engineering school associated with the University of Montreal because of his hatred toward women and feminism.

As part of the local observance of White Ribbon Month, Eldridge said, a banner will be hung across Main Street next week. White ribbons will be available at the Police Department, the Library and Town Hall.

Also this month, Eldridge noted, WAAV will be joining with the Wakefield Police and RESPOND, a Massachusetts-based domestic violence prevention agency, to present a Teen Dating Violence Workshop for local parents and caregivers of pre-teens and adolescents on Thursday, March 7 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wakefield Police Department, 1 Union St.

The March 26 White Ribbon Event at The Savings Bank Theater will feature a keynote speaker from RESPOND and serve as an opportunity for local men to take the Massachusetts White Ribbon Pledge.

Eldridge pointed out that there is a link on the WAAV Facebook page to an online version of the Pledge that men can take and sign electronically. She encouraged everyone to do so and still attend the event on March 26.

The Pledge reads as follows:

“I WILL PROMOTE respect, dignity and equality.

I WILL SPEAK OUT against attitudes and behaviors that contribute to sexual assault and domestic violence.

I WILL REMIND myself and others that gender violence is a men’s issue that affects all of us, regardless of our backgrounds and identities.

I WILL CONFRONT sexism, homophobia, racism and other forms of oppression.

I WILL FIND OUT how to help when I suspect that someone I know is a victim or offender of sexual assault or domestic violence.

From this day forward, I promise to be part of the solution in ending violence against women and all gender-based violence.”

Police Chief Rick Smith said that “WAAV is making a difference in the community.” He challenged “every man in this room and all men at Town Hall” to take the Pledge and show their support of the White Ribbon Movement. He said that all the male members of his department will be taking the pledge and expressed confidence that the men of the Fire Department and the DPW will also be taking the Pledge.

WAAV meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 8:30 a.m. at WCAT.