I believe survivors.

Here in Canada a sexual assault trial just wrapped up that has captured national interest. These alleged sexual assaults were of a surprisingly violent nature, (again – allegedly) perpetrated by a national entertainment icon.

The women who were on the receiving end of the alleged assaults came forward only after years of silence. In court, their testimonies were torn to shreds by the defense lawyer.

March 24, 2016, the accused walked free.

Now, in the court of public opinion, this man is guilty as all get out.

However, in the court of law, you must be guilty beyond the reasonable shadow of a doubt. If the defense can demonstrate that doubt, you are not convicted.

That’s where it gets uncomfortable. Should this man have walked free? Is it better that ten guilty people are exonerated than one innocent person is convicted? If we are the ones who face punishment, we would say yes.

But in this particular case, even those close to the man in question don’t deny he actually did the things of which he is accused.

And so women who have been hurt see this result and many may determine it’s not worth the public humiliation, public shaming, and mockery when in all likelihood there will not be a conviction. They have seen how the system works and in essence, they have been silenced.

This is troubling.

And I don’t have an answer.

I am hoping that those who are affected directly and most intimately – women – will lead the way.

Something has to change.

Now, there is an entire issue of abused becoming abusers, and that is a long-term, generational problem to solve, but it’s not the topic of the day here.

I believe survivors.

And we MUST have better mechanisms for support while still retaining fairness in law.

This is not just a national discussion here in Canada, but an Internationally needed examination.

As a man, I can only support and speak up. So I am.

I was raised by a feminist mother, but also a patriarchal society. It has taken years for me to find the way through that conditioning and I thank my mom for giving me tools. I hope I can do the same for my own children.

When I think back to the attitudes, words and actions that were considered acceptable as I was growing and maturing alongside my friends my face reddens with embarrassment and shame. It is taking my entire life to find all the seeds of careless, unintended, and often unconscious misogyny that a male dominated society has planted in me. My strong, amazing wife is pretty good at helping me there!

I believe survivors.

We have a long road ahead. We’ve already begun. And myself and others watch and listen to the leadership of those who are most affected – the women of the world. This ranges beyond the concept of two gender identities.

Thank you for showing us how to be better sons, brothers, friends, partners, lovers. Thank you for showing us how to be better men.

On this road, we were always meant to walk together.

Many have already taken the first steps.

The rest must hurry to catch up.

Hiy hiy

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Aaron Paquette is a First Nations Metis artist, author and speaker. Based in Edmonton, Aberta, his Bestselling Novel ‘Lightfinder’ was published June 2014 through Kegedonce Press and quickly topped the bestseller charts. It is now in FOURTH printing.

To order Lightfinder:

Chapters Indigo

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A Day of Giving by Aaron Paquette

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I believe survivors - Aaron Paquette