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In high heels, he walks for her

Dozens of men walk to raise money for the Howe Sound Women's Centre

Out went the sandals, and high tops and boots, and in came the stilettos, high heels and pumps.

Two dozen men grunted their way through a mile while wearing women's shoes Saturday (Sept. 12) in a pledge to support the battle against rape, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Through pledges and sponsorships, 24 men raised $6,300 during Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an event sponsored by the Howe Sound Women's Centre on Third Avenue.

By walking a mile in women's shoes, the men were able to experience some of the pain that women in situations of domestic violence and rape undergo, said Tara Franz, the executive director of the Howe Sound Women's Centre.

"This isn't comfortable, this hurts. I think the pain of high heels is very symbolic of the pain of gender violence and the men today acknowledged that," she said.

According to Statistics Canada, one in every two women is the victim of at least one act of physical or sexual violence after the age of 16.

Despite the seriousness of the topic matter, there was obvious joviality in the air as the men and their supporters marched from the centre around Cleveland Avenue and back to the centre.

Onlookers laughed, cheered and honked car horns and the men - however wobbly they may have been - took it all in stride.

Fire chief Norm Ryan did so in his off-white high heels. Mayor Greg Gardner folded his trousers to reveal his girly red pump shoes, and Squamish Nation Coun. Dale Harry looked precarious on his cream-coloured high heels.

Harry seemed to have a tough time balancing, but still tried his best to exude feminine charm, and even wore an orange coloured boa around his neck.

"My daughter said 'Now you know what we go though.' This was very hard for me to do," Harry said.

Others went the whole nine yards, like David Gregr, whose wife convinced him to wear a casual dress with pink fishnets and matching high heels.

"It's pretty easy to convince me, and plus it's good fun," said Gregr.

Some onlookers, unable to resist, cracked the inevitable jokes.

"How about a little more wiggle to the back end?" a passerby called to Gardner.

"Sorry about that, but we are working on it," Gardner laughed.

Then Gardner got a look at Harry, and said: "Well, he's got a nice wiggle to him."

All made it back without serious injury, but many of them were seen getting foot massages after the event was over.

Franz said it was a humbling experience for the women's centre to see the men work for the funds earned, and the centre plans to make this an annual event.

"Next year, we will host 'Dance for an hour in her shoes,'" she joked.

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international march that was started in 2001 by Frank Bird, a volunteer at the Valley Trauma Counselling Centre in California.

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