Community You Are Not Alone: Ottawa Race Weekend and the Ottawa Rape Crisis...

    You Are Not Alone: Ottawa Race Weekend and the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre


    If you are a survivor reading this, please know that your experience, voice, and journey matter. For nearly 50 years, the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC) has advocated for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Ottawa and the surrounding region. Unfortunately, the need for the supports that ORCC offers is just as critical today as the day it opened in 1974. In fact, a recent study from the Canadian Women’s Foundation found that “64% of people in Canada know a woman who has experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse.” (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2021).

    It will genuinely take collective efforts to end sexual violence. This is where Run Ottawa comes in. This partnership helps spread the word about the community’s needs and provides opportunities for raising funds to support survivors directly.  

    “It’s not an easy conversation to be had and not a well understood space—it comes with a stigma—but we know that we need to address this kind of violence together as a community,” says Candice Shaw, Executive Director of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. “When people don’t understand structural violence, I use the racecourse analogy as if life was the start line for a race: we’re all expecting to participate, but we’re not all starting at the same point. In the case of what we do at the ORCC, it’s all about supporting people in their [healing] journey so we can all have the ability to determine what our lives look like—to live, in a sense, and be free to determine our own path.” 

    As runners, this analogy of the route hits home. When starting from different points in life (or on a course), any support available can make all the difference. For this reason and more, we are entirely grateful to be selected for a second consecutive year to be Ian Fraser’s not-for-profit of choice for the Desjardins Charity Challenge at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend 2023 and to be part of the Run Ottawa and broader running community.”

    Fraser has a long history of soliciting donations, starting when he opened his former business Cyclelogik. This year he has set his goal to turbo-charge his fundraising. As Team Captain for STRIDES4ORCC, Ian has committed to running virtually to various sexual assault support centre locations throughout Eastern Ontario while bringing awareness about sexual and gender-based violence further out into the open.

    Put simply: we want to promote conversations and actions toward ending sexual violence in our communities.  

    Freedom found in our shoes is one of the greatest gifts of our sport. Ian Fraser, race director of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, says his love of running invokes that feeling of boundlessness and release. “Physical health promotes mental health, and running is such a freedom that to think our loved ones and neighbours could be unsafe in our own communities is barbaric,” says Fraser, adding that the thousands of dollars he hopes to raise for ORCC through the Desjardins Charity Challenge at Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend are used on such things as counselling and crisis services, and fundamental necessities like safe housing, food, and clothing. “Violence against women and abuse of all kinds is reprehensible, unfathomable, and the ORCC provides an essential service with a mission I’m proud to stand within our community.” 

    It’s not only in Ottawa where non-profit organizations like the ORCC need and provide help. Dr. Shaw says ORCC is a member of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) as well as the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) and that across the country, many groups are tirelessly working, and need volunteers and fundraising support to carry out their missions. She’s thankful for what Fraser and the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend are building to help draw attention to her network—and she encourages everyone to take an active role in changing the world. 

    “You have the right to show up in your life the way you choose, and if someone is dealing with violence, it’s our job as an organization and our role as a community to support those who need help,” says Shaw, who’s actively growing her team at Strides 4 ORCC and looks forward to meeting as many people as possible at the big race in May. “Some people run for a finishing time, others run for a release, but whatever your reason, we look at life the same way: it’s your journey, and you have the right to choose your own path. We’re here to support survivors so they can look at life, and running, the same way.”  

    To donate to Strides 4 ORCC, visit their team page. To keep up with Fraser as he runs virtually, raising money for Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, follow him and Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend on Instagram @idfraserinotown and @ottawaracewknd.