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V-Day letter perfect organizers say

Susanne Sarioglu dances to the music as a crowd of about 75 gathered at Duncan city square on Thursday, Feb. 14, for Cowichan Rising, part of a worldwide awareness campaign called One Billion Rising aimed at drawing attention to the issue of violence against women. - Andrew Leong
Susanne Sarioglu dances to the music as a crowd of about 75 gathered at Duncan city square on Thursday, Feb. 14, for Cowichan Rising, part of a worldwide awareness campaign called One Billion Rising aimed at drawing attention to the issue of violence against women.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Emotional. Empowering. Evoking. Engaging.

These are just some of the words used to describe Cowichan's series of events based on the international V-Day phenomenon.

"The energy was just as we expected," organizer of the city square Feb. 14 event Nika Stafford said.

"It brought the attention to the gathering and it really started things out on an encouraging and empowering note."

The gathering began at the Matraea Centre and saw 150-or so folks march to city square where a flash mob of song and dance broke out.

Several folks also spoke, including Stafford, Jen Holden, Lynn Weaver, Heidi Mendenhall and Grant Waldman.

The flash-mob was a highlight for Stafford.

"That part was really fun and it turned out well," she said of the co-ordinated dance communities all over the world took part in. "We danced another three songs after that too and we all thought 'We should do this more often. We should really start dancing at city square on our lunch breaks.'"

Instead of one group leading the charge promoting this year's V-Day events, all powered by the goal of ending violence against women and girls — the V stands for victory, valentine and vagina — groups came together to form the celebrations, all staged under the umbrella label Cowichan Rises.

Along with the city square event, Cowichan Women Against Violence hosted its annual art show and photography contest Feb. 16 before the Cowichan Theatre staged Eve Ensler's Vagina Monolgues later that evening.

"It was an amazing event," Cowichan Theatre's Kirsten Schrader said of the Monologues.

"It was a near sold out house and that several art pieces sold from the Art of Healing exhibition."

She couldn't have been more proud of the cast who took part reading Ensler's script, especially this year's newcomers. She also cheered husband-and-wife theatre coaches, Keith Digby & Cynthia Pronick, who stepped up at the last minute to ease some of the performer's stage jitters.

"There were a couple of performers who were quite nervous and not feeling brave and not quite ready to perform," Schrader explained.

"Keith said something that really hit home for them. He said something to the effect, that live performance is an amazing thing, your adrenals just kick right in and your nerves propel you forward and you can really do an amazing job on stage."

"They really offered so much experience and wisdom," she said of the husband and wife team.

And the crowd was visibly as moved as Schrader.

"People stood up spontaneously in response," she said. "It was really chilling. There were people crying. There was also so much humour and people were laughing hysterically during some parts."

A couple acts that stuck out for her were Victoria Clement's rendition of 'My Angry Vagina,' and Bobbi Rowntree's take on 'Re-claiming Cunt.'

"I think it was really brave of (Bobbi) to take that on. It's a hard monologue to do with such a controversial word."

The final tally of monies raised for CWAV through all local events was not available by press time.

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