If you’ve driven past Rose Harbour at 1116 Dogwood St. this week, you’ve likely seen the colourful T-shirts hanging from the building.
And if you’ve had a chance to look more closely at those shirts, you’ve probably seen messages such as “keep us safe,” “conquer abuse with love,” and “stop the violence.”
The T-shirts have been decorated by women living at Rose Harbour Transitional Housing, which is run by the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society (CRNITS) and includes time-limited subsidized housing and specialized services for clients, with or without children, who are impacted by homelessness, abuse, violence and/or substance misuse. The shirts are being displayed on and around the building as part of the Clothesline Project.
The Clothesline Project started in Cape Cod, Mass., in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women. It is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions and heal by decorating a shirt. It always takes place during Prevention of Violence Against Women Week (which this year is April 18-25).
Lori-Ann Hirst, the CRNITS’s outreach worker and safe home co-ordinator, says that while the transition society does the Clothesline Project every year, this is the first year they have hung the shirts on the Rose Harbour building.
“I think why it’s so special is a lot of the women who live in this building have experienced violence against them or in their life and they’re looking for safety — and that is what this building is for,” she said. “All these T-shirts have been done by women who live in the building to share their voice. That’s why it’s so special — it’s their way of having a voice.”
The decorated T-shirts share messages of hope, memorials to women who have been lost, statements of strength and stories of survival. Hirst says they have about 200 shirts this year.
Hirst says they’ve been doing the project for at least 20 years in Campbell River and it has gotten bigger and bigger.
“What it means to have it on this building is this is a building for women who experience abuse who are needing a safe place to be and this is the T-shirts they did,” she said.
This past Tuesday, the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society, Campbell River Women’s Centre and Laichwiltach and Family Services hosted the Clothesline Project at Spirit Square.
Along with the T-shirts, there was also a white sheet with “These Hands Don’t Hurt” written on it for non-abusive males to trace their hands on in support of the cause.
Hirst says they had a good turnout for the community awareness event.
“There were at least 200 people throughout the day who stopped by and checked it out, asked questions and took a look at the T-shirts,” she said. “We had women come in and ask if they could do a T-shirt and hang it up on the clothesline themselves, which was very profound for them. I think a lot of people who didn’t know about it asked questions and it brought awareness to the community.”
During Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, you’ll find T-shirts hanging around the Rose Harbour building, the Museum at Campbell River and the Campbell River and District Art Gallery.
Many of the T-shirts hanging at Rose Harbour as part of this year’s Clothesline Project — many of which offer messages of hope or support or pleas to stop violence against women — were decorated by the women staying at the transitional housing facility.