Stabbing of Calgary woman prompts founder of safety movement to take action

A Calgary woman has spearheaded a campaign to promote women’s safety that has spread worldwide.

Like many Calgarians, Steph Colangeli was shocked to hear about the death of Vanessa Ladouceur, the 30-year-old woman who  was stabbed to death in a random attack downtown while walking to work last month.

“I cried. I mean who wouldn’t.  It’s devastating. At the same time it was a bit of a wake up call for us,” Colangeli said.

So she turned her grief into action on Sunday, handing out what she calls Pin-Up-Girl pins to people on 17 avenue S.W. at Tomkins Park.

“We are here in memory of Vanessa Ladouceur. We know that one of our sisters didn’t make it to work and that just can’t keep happening.  We are here in memory of her. We are here in light of all the things that have been happening in our city and all the recent attacks,” Colangeli said.

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Read more: Pin-Up-Girl: Calgary mom creates international movement for women’s safety

Pin-Up-Girl is a campaign she launched in 2017 –women wear pins as a visual cue that they are available to help if, for whatever reason, a female-identifying person feels at risk.

Since then, the movement has grown into a global network of women working together to make public spaces safe for everyone.

Lorna Selig is the president of Safe 4 Life Personal Safety Training. She joined the Pin-Up-Girl campaign on Sunday to lend support to women and raise awareness about the importance of having a safety plan.

Selig said that means being aware of everything and everyone in your environment, being prepared to fight or make noise and to keep your ears open.

“If you need to run with music, wear one earbud only. Keep the music down. When you are running or anywhere in the community you need to have all your senses tuned in. If you are shutting off your hearing you really have lost a significant part of your safety plan and that piece about being alert and tuned in to where things are in your environment,” Selig said.

Read more: Calgary woman speaks publicly after man exposes himself on busy street

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Since being launched in Calgary, Pin-Up-Girl has spread across Canada and to countries around the world.

“It’s incredible. It gives us such hope.  I think we as women have done this long enough. We’ve held our keys between our fingers and not gone out at certain times of night. We’ve watched what we’ve worn and watched who we’ve talked to. I think enough is enough,” Colangeli said.

Read more: Calgary social support services see increased strain as pandemic continues

More information is available at www.pinupgirl.org.

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