More than 120 communities across the state took part in the third annual Choose Respect rally day, an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska, and to take action against it. Events this year brought communities together for marches, rallies, luncheons, potlucks, and Native dancing.
"Two years ago, we asked every Alaskan to stand together for our shared value of respect," Governor Parnell said. "In the Choose Respect campaign's inaugural year, 18 Alaska communities stepped forward. Last year, 64 communities held rallies and marches. I am humbled to announce that 123 Alaska communities will hold Choose Respect events this year. To our partners, volunteers and everyday Alaskans: your extraordinary efforts are bringing hope and healing to Alaskans in every corner of our state.
"Communities across Alaska are sending a strong message. Together, we are changing social norms that condone violence and promote silence. We are teaching our children our traditional values of respect. Every day, victims and survivors are taking courageous steps and seeking safety. Every day Alaskans are showing that we will not tolerate abuse or rape, and we are ready to help our neighbors, friends, coworkers and families."
Governor Parnell and First Lady Sandy Parnell led a rally in Fairbanks' Golden Heart Plaza; Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell led a march in Juneau; Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus led a march in Anchorage; and state commissioners joined forces with community partners across the state to participate in events from Akutan to Chalkyitsik.
The Choose Respect initiative, a hallmark of Governor Parnell's administration, includes an emphasis on prevention, greater enforcement and stronger support services for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.