Sitka residents joined others across Alaska today in marching against domestic violence.
The Choose Respect campaign is led by Governor Sean Parnell’s administration. In Sitka, it’s resulted in marches and in the commissioning of a mural that now hangs on the side of Blatchley Middle School.
Vicki D’Amico is interim director of Sitkans Against Family Violence. She says the way communities address domestic violence has changed in the last several years, and that prevention programs, the daily work of law enforcement and health care professionals, along with statewide awareness campaigns are all making a long-term difference.
“And I’ll make a confession here,” D’Amico said. “When I first heard the term ‘Choose Respect,’ I thought of ‘Just Say No,’ and Nancy Reagan. It’s not that easy. Just Choose Respect: What does that mean? People haven’t been modeled respect. They don’t know what that is. It would be just great if they could pick it out of a hat and choose it. It’s so much more than that.
“I figure that my grandson, who is 4 now, will see the effects of our prevention program by the time he’s in Blatchley. We can’t expect immediate results. But there is finally hope that, with our grandchildren and children, there will be some changes.”
The march in Sitka culminated in a rally at Crescent Harbor. Mt. Edgecumbe High School junior Nelson Kanuk was among those who addressed the crowd.
“We all have the same blood in our veins. We all sleep at night. And we are not different. For us young people who are here, we’re all proud to be here representing the next generation,” Kanuk said. “We are the seeds of our future and we can turn this around in our state. As a whole, we can change this in our world, and have it encrypted everywhere. We have to get rid of violence. It just doesn’t fit with us. I believe that’s the way we’re supposed to live. Respect is our way of life.”
Sitka’s march and rally joined 122 other events across the state.