Oakville unveils its first Purple Bench during Women Abuse Prevention Month


Published November 9, 2023 at 8:30 am

purple bench

Oakville has its first Purple Bench, with the bench serving to honour the victims of violence against women and as a reminder that intimate partner violence still exists and is still a major threat to women everywhere.

The Purple Benches are part of ‘Barb’s Bench Project’, which began in Nova Scotia to honour Barbara Baillie, who was strangled to death by her husband of 25 years in Spryfield, Nova Scotia in 1990.

The tragedy shook the lives of her family and friends and her entire community, leading to the creation of the Bench Project, with purple benches – park benches were her sanctuary from the constant abuse – placed throughout Nova Scotia. Each bench bore a commemorative plaque with information on how to get help when experiencing domestic violence.

The project eventually spread to other parts of Canada and Halton received its first bench December 6, 2021 when a purple bench was placed at Dominion Garden Park on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

December 6 is a day that honours the memory of the 14 women who were murdered at Ecole Polytechnic in Montreal simply because they were women in a violent act fueled by hatred and misogyny.

Georgetown’s bench was in memory of Darian Henderson-Bellman, who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2020.

Oakville’s purple bench was launched by Halton’s Women’s Place – currently the only women’s shelter in the region with locations in Milton and Burlington – and their partners, Halton Regional Police and the Town of Oakville.

With November being Women Abuse Prevention Month, Halton Women’s Place plans on unveiling more purple benches this week in Milton, Acton and Burlington.

Michael Parsa, the provincial Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, released a joint statement this week calling for an end to gender-based violence.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that one in three women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, with women being three times more likely to experience stalking and three-and-a-half times more likely to be a victim of intimate partner violence than men,” the statement read. “Ontario will continue to take a stand against gender-based violence and work with our partners to support survivors and people at risk.”

“As a province, we come together in mourning with those affected by these senseless crimes.”

The Province is encouraging Ontarians to show their support by participating in the Wrapped in Courage campaign, taking the White Ribbon pledge, joining events in their local community and helping those around them who may be experiencing violence.

Halton Police Deputy Chief Jeff Hill with Flo Bellman and Paul Henderson, the grandparents of Darian Henderson-Bellman, who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in Georgetown in 2020

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