Corner Brook remembers Rehtaeh Parsons with awareness walk

Published on April 8, 2017

‘I believe you” is the message Laurie Kennedy wanted delivered to the world as she participated in the Rehtaeh Parsons Memorial Walk held Saturday in Corner Brook.

©Dave Kearsey

I believe you.

Such few words, but yet so powerful.
Those were the words inscripted on a poster carried by Laurie Kennedy during the Rehtaeh Parsons Memorial Walk that took place Saturday in Corner Brook.
Kennedy said it’s definitely important to spread awareness and create change so she wanted to show her support by participating in the walk.
“We really just want to spread the word that if you are a survivor of sexual assault you are not alone, and we believe you and change needs to happen,” Kennedy said.
Rae, as Rehtaeh was called by her mom Leah, was 15 when she said she was raped four four boys in Nova Scotia who took advantage of her while she was deeply intoxicated.
To add insult to injury, a photograph of the assault was widely circulated and Rehtaeh was incessantly threatended and ridiculed for it for more than a year.
It only ended when her anguish drove her to take her own life 17 months after the rape.
About 30 people, some with leashed dogs along for the trek, walked from Corner Brook Intermediate to Margaret Bowater Park to honour and remember Parsons, and create change so that today’s society no longer tolerates any form of sexual violence.
Kennedy heard Leah Parsons speak about her daughter’s life and tragic ending when the mom was invited to be guest speaker at an International Women’s Day event hosted by the Corner Brook Status of Women Council.
It only made sense for Kennedy to help do what she could to create awareness about a topic she believes needs more attention than ever because people need to address the growing concerns in the community about sexual violence.
Kennedy said it’s important that people support those who have suffered from sexual violence or continue to struggle with it every day. She hopes people will show more understanding and concern when a person tells their story of sexual violence.
“Often times when people come forward when they’ve been sexually assaulted people don’t believe them and there’s a lot of victim-blaming that happens and that needs to stop,” she said.