Kim MacDonald is producing the Until the Violence Stops festival in Halifax because she wants people to know how serious the issue is.

The festival is the first of its kind outside the United States and is being presented by the V-Day Halifax Community. It includes plays, seminars and a basketball tournament.

MacDonald is part of a larger team of event organizers who are raising awareness about violence against women and girls, and she said one of the important things to consider is educating boys at a young age to stop the violence before it starts


“Men are not born rapists,” she said. “They’re not born abusers, so what is happening that creates this?”

MacDonald said Nova Scotia has the highest rate of sexual assault in Canada, and the police are called at least once every day in the province for this reason.

“The reality is abuse against animals sometimes gets more of a sentence than abuse against women,” she said.

MacDonald hopes people will use the provincial election as an opportunity to pressure politicians into talking about the issue of violence against women; and take action by increasing funds to women’s organizations.

The festival kicked off yesterday in Parade Square with an official flag raising with about 80 people in attendance. The festival wraps up June 14.

Yesterday’s event started with a declaration from HRM Mayor Peter Kelly and then speeches from members of the V-Day campaign.

Following that, the Raging Grannies — a group of energetic and colourful performers — sang songs focused on curbing violence against women and on what to do in an abuse scenario.