Rehtaeh Parsons' supporters march for awareness
Published Saturday, April 5, 2014 1:20PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 5, 2014 6:09PM EDT
Family and friends of Rehtaeh Parsons gathered in Cole Harbour, N.S. on Saturday to commemorate the one year anniversary of the teen’s death.
Rehtaeh died in April 2013 after being taken off life-support following an attempted suicide.
Her family alleges that the 17-year-old was sexually assaulted by four boys and subsequently bullied by her peers after a digital image was circulated.
Rehtaeh’s supporters took part in Rae’s Awareness for People Everywhere (R.A.P.E) walk on Saturday, to honour the teen’s memory and bring awareness to the issues of sexual assault and cyberbullying.
“We were silenced for 16 months leading up to Rehtaeh’s death, we won’t be silenced any longer,” Rehtaeh’s mother Leah Parson told the crowd.
“Today we walked a mile or two in Rehtaeh’s shoes. In the community she once loved and was very proud to be a part of, one that became her worst nightmare where she was afraid to leave her own home,” she added.
About 150 supporters participated in the walk, holding up signs of support and urging others to speak out against rape and sexual assault.
“This is a good reflection of all the support we’ve had in Halifax and Cole Harbour in the last year,” Rehtaeh’s father Glen Canning told CTV Atlantic.
“For everyone to come out today with the wind and the rain blowing and to see so many people here, it kept you warm inside for sure,” he added.
Rehtaeh’s story has gained international attention, with a documentary crew from Japan filming the walk Saturday.
Participants in Brooklyn, New York also organized a walk to celebrate Rehtaeh’s life and held a candle-light vigil in her honour.
“That’s what gets me through the day, knowing yes, Rehtaeh’s gone, but her message is not gone. Her courage to speak out is giving others courage to speak out,” said Leah.
Two teens are currently facing child pornography charges in relation to the case.
Both have been charged with distributing child pornography, while one of the accused also faces a charge of making child pornography.
They cannot be named because they were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offences, and both are charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Matt Woodman.