Friends of Julie Paskall raise thousands of dollars to stop violence against women

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Langley resident Stan Nicol remembers Julie Paskall as a kind person who “would do anything for you” and loved roller-skating.

The film-industry driver knew Paskall, who died in December after being attacked outside the Newton Arena, for 15 years. They became friends at the former Stardust rink in Surrey.

When it came time to hold a reunion of roller-skating friends, Nicol decided to turn it into a fundraiser in honour of Paskall. He and others managed to raise just over $2,500 for Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre in Vancouver.

“I think she would have been happy with what we are doing,” Nicol told the Georgia Straight on July 25, after presenting a cheque to staff at the WAVAW office.

According to Nicol, the reunion took place at the Lynden Skateway in Washington. Three unions—Teamsters Local 155, IUOE Local 115, and CUPE Local 498—contributed funds. The Vancouver Canucks, the B.C. Lions, restaurants, and others donated items for a silent auction.

“It’s kind of hard to do when it’s someone that you know,” Nicol said. “But in general it worked out really well, I think, and the money is going to a great cause—to stop this from happening to anybody else in the future.”

In May, Yosef Gopaul, who moved to B.C. from Ontario several weeks before Paskall’s death, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with her slaying.

Carissa Ropponen, executive and development assistant for WAVAW, told the Straight that proceeds from the Stardust reunion will help the organization stage over 20 outreach events to educate people about violence against women.

“We have direct services for women who’ve been hurt by sexual assault,” Ropponen said. “We have counselling, victim services, and other services. But the other big piece of what we do is outreach, because we believe that it’s not enough for us to have services for women after they’ve been hurt. We want to stop and prevent violence from occurring. So we want to see social change happen.”

According to Ropponen, WAVAW receives half of its funding through provincial contracts and the other half from private donations.

“If it wasn’t for individual donors out there, our doors wouldn’t remain open,” Ropponen said.

Ariana Barer, coordinator of WAVAW’s volunteer and education outreach programs, told the Straight that much of the public discussion about violence against women focuses on assaults by strangers rather than attacks by men they know.

“What we would really like to see is a discussion around the culture of violence, which is what we think has made it possible for what happened to Julie to take place,” Barer said. “It’s what made it possible for this statistic of one in three women experiencing some form of sexualized violence in their lifetime. That’s far too high.”

Barer noted that WAVAW would like to see a “really nuanced” discussion of the issue take place, as well as a public outcry in favour of funding for services and education to prevent violence against women.

“We know that certain women are targeted for violence, like indigenous women,” Barer said. “There’s a lot of violence that’s racialized. Women who are living in poverty, who have immigrated are being targeted for violence.”

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