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2009-09-11 at 21:35

Community rallies for Raynard

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch
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Last week John "Jake" Raynard was alone in a dark alley being chased by men, one armed with a brick, who shouted slurs at him.

This week Raynard stood in the sunshine at Waverly Park, surrounded by more than 1,500 people holding signs, waving flags and cheering him on as he spoke of overcoming violence and hatred in hopes that it would never happen again.

Raynard said he was overwhelmed by the community’s response through Unity in Our Community, a rally held Friday evening to support him after the attack early last Saturday. The attack left him with 15 fractures to his cheekbone, a broken eye socket, a broken jaw and a broken upper palate.

"It surprised me quite a bit. I wouldn’t have anticipated this…my worst fear was that no one would show up but I’m glad the community has shown up in droves," said Raynard, smiling at his sister Jackii’s side. "I have no idea how to respond to it except with love and a lot of thanks."

Jackii Raynard said the event has been able to unite the community because everyone has been a victim or has known a victim at one point. She said she hopes that by Raynard speaking out, other victims can come forward.

"I think all too often people that are victims of these crimes are ashamed and try to hide from their attackers and the community at large," said Raynard. "I think they probably try to hide from themselves as well…we can’t have an open dialogue about these kind of things and try to really heal and recover from them without talking about them."

After an initial speech by Raynard, the crowd walked from Waverly Park, down Camelot Street to North Cumberland Street where the attack took place and up Red River Road back to the park.

Dennis Godin came to the rally to march with four friends. Godin said he was shocked when he first read about the attack.

"I wanted to show support (for Raynard)," said Godin. "I think it was a real surprise for everybody to see the support downtown and the support of the honking cars."

The event had eight speakers including Raynard. They ranged from union leaders to church ministers. Speaker Louise McKissick said it’s time for Thunder Bay to undergo a transformation.

"Anger transformed into action can change things," said McKissick. "We need a community where diversity is not just tolerated but celebrated."

Raynard said the next step for him after resting and healing is to advocate for several initiatives including an increased police presence in the North downtown core.

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rednightbird says:
I so wish I could have attended this today I was definitely there in spirit and I hope this rally shows all how much support the homosexual community has in Thunder Bay maybe we should lead by example and preach tolerance to our children not hatred.
9/11/2009 10:32:40 PM
TundraBay says:
Food for thought.

1. Why now does the story claim "chased by men armed with bricks" when initially it was Raynard that grabbed a brick for self-defense as the men chased him. (Dated 09/07/09)

2. Why did his friends and the cab driver abandon him and not call the police when they were separated by the crowd.

What happened to Mr. Raynard is unfortunate. However, I believe there is more to this story that is not being told.
9/11/2009 11:52:38 PM
tb girl says:
3 people were attacked that night - one of the other men was beaten also had lacerations, concussion, bruises. I think there needs to be support for ALL 3 victims of this terrible crime. I wish the best for all the victims in this case and for victims of hate crimes everywhere.
9/12/2009 12:19:57 AM
tbaycat says:
The disenfranchised against the disenfranchised........what is the difference between the cultural origin of an individual and the sexual orientation of an individual......nothing...... besides their differences........hate is hate....we need to get over it....
9/12/2009 4:22:20 AM
bobguy says:
Here is a very good reason to be proud of our community!!!
9/12/2009 10:42:44 AM
DafDaffy Duck says:
Congratulations to all those who attended the Standing up against violence rally.Getting involved and participating in events like this surely encourages all of us to get more involvement in municipal affairs and in particular the safety of our streets.Let's hope that Mr Raynard and those other injured in this vicious assault heal quickly and that those responsible are apprehended and if convicted are dealt with severely in our Judicial. system.
9/12/2009 1:04:59 PM
NDNKAR says:
I am interested in knowing if any prominent persons or leaders in the city attended this rally? How about the mayor or the two city MP's and MPP's? Any prominent city leader, be it from the municipal, provincial, or federal level, would wisely attend and support this rally, especially when the city's image has recently taken a major hit. In addition, any support of this rally is also support of Canada's legal fabric; the Constitution, Criminal Code, and Charter of Rights of Freedoms.
9/12/2009 2:54:33 PM
mmacura says:
In the early 80's Thunder Bay had an underground gay community for fear of surfacing and facing discrimination from the population at large. My two gay friends from highschool had no choice but to move to Toronto at that time if they wanted to pursue their lives honestly. It is with great pleasure that I read that the community has rallied behind Jake. Bravo Thunder Bay! You've come a long way!
9/13/2009 7:14:24 AM
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