A large tree in Victoria Park is glowing purple, following the official launch of the Shine the Light campaign to end men’s violence against women.
For the month of November, the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) is urging businesses, schools, places of worship, and homes to outfit themselves with purple decorations to show support for women.
The annual campaign is in its ninth year and is putting the spotlight on two women: Shainee Chalk, a Woodstock woman who is the victim of revenge porn, and Maddison Fraser, a Nova Scotia woman involved in the sex trade who died in a car crash driven by a man believed to be a john.
Fraser’s mother, Jennifer Holleman, attended Thursday night’s Lighting of the Tree of Hope ceremony.
“It’s exceptionally important for me to be here,” she told 980 CFPL. “Not only to recognize Maddison and what she went through but just to support LAWC and the amazing work that they do. I’m incredibly honoured that they chose my daughter to remember.”
Holleman said she used to feel embarrassed by what happened and would speak to media about it anonymously.
“But as more time passed, I thought why should I hide my face and why should I hide my child’s face?”
Holleman has realized her daughter’s involvement in the sex trade, the physical abuse from her pimps, and her death, are things happening in Canadian communities both large and small.
“I realize there’s more women that are in this predicament, and they can’t get out. Therefore it’s important to spread the word and what’s happening and make people realize that it’s a horrible crime that’s taking place.”
Maddison Fraser will continue to be remembered locally after the month-long Shine the Light campaign comes to an end. The London Police Association announced Thursday it had established a bursary in her name, using money bequeathed to the association by a retired police officer.
“He passed away and he had no family,” said association president Dave Gilmore.
“Rather than letting his life insurance lapse, he bequeathed it to us. We had a number of initiatives we looked at, but the London Abused Women’s Centre does such a great job in the community that they were our first choice.”
The association will give the London Abused Women’s Centre a sum of money in the first week of January every year “for eternity,” he said. The money will be used to address human trafficking.