Carl Stepetin draws with his daughter, Pauline, 6, during a Celebrate Survivors gathering sponsored by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and AWARE in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Carl Stepetin draws with his daughter, Pauline, 6, during a Celebrate Survivors gathering sponsored by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and AWARE in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Community gathers to Celebrate Survivors

AWARE and Tlingit & Haida event uplifts those who have suffered effects of gender-based violence

Pauline Stepetin capped a marker and passed a wood chip to her mother, Lois Jamestown, who placed in a bowl.

The chip, which bore the name of Jamestown’s family member, joined others bearing the name of those impacted by gender-based violence. The wood chips were from a healing totem pole being carved by Wayne Price, a master carver, that in spring will be raised at Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies’ shelter.

Shortly afterward, mother and daughter hurried to join other members of the Woosh.ji.een Dance Group, which performed at Celebrating Survivors, an event co-sponsored by AWARE and the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, held Tuesday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.

“When I look upon your faces, I see what strength is,” said group leader Lyle James to the audience. “I see what courage is. I see what hope is.”

[PHOTOS: ‘Celebrating Survivors’ gathering in Juneau]

The healing totem pole chips were one of several opportunities at Celebrate Survivors for gender-based violence survivors, their loved ones and advocates to write personalized messages.

There were also banners that allowed those in attendance to write personal messages of support or solutions and a station that allowed for people to write letters to elected officials.

In total four were written — three to Sen. Lisa Murkowski and one to Juneau Mayor Beth Welden.

Saralyn Tabachnick, executive director for AWARE, said Celebrate Survivors was intended to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is October, but also in response to current events and nationwide discussions.

“It’s almost like sexual assault survivors became a partisan issue, which they are not,” Tabachnick said. “Mostly we’re looking to uplift survivors, allies and their families — everyone impacted, which is everyone.”

During the event there were musical performances, speeches from elected officials and those seeking office.

Jesse Kiehl, who is running for state Senate, said men will do better, and Sara Hannan, who is running for the state House of Representatives, shared her survivor’s story.

“I was living in Russia and women in Russia suffer abuse at the same rate as Alaskan women,” Hannan said.

She intervened in the attempted rape of her friend and the attacker turned his aggression on Hannan and knocked her out but did not rape her. Hannan survived and said she is a strong person today.

“We all know someone who has been raped or suffers violence on a daily basis,” Hannan said.

Tlingit & Haida President Richard Peterson spoke to the importance of men filling the role of protectors and advocates, and helping to stop gender-based violence.

“The cycles could end here with us,” Peterson said. “So our children’s children don’t have to come to rallies. They don’t have to come to support groups.”


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


Lillian Hillman, left, watches as Woosh.ji.een Dance Group dancer John Garcia performs during a Celebrate Survivors gathering sponsored by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and AWARE in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lillian Hillman, left, watches as Woosh.ji.een Dance Group dancer John Garcia performs during a Celebrate Survivors gathering sponsored by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and AWARE in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Members of the Woosh.ji.een Dance Group perform during a Celebrate Survivors gathering sponsored by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and AWARE in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Members of the Woosh.ji.een Dance Group perform during a Celebrate Survivors gathering sponsored by Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and AWARE in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Home

President Biden at the White House on July 3. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden drops out of race, scrambling the campaign for the White House

Withdraws under pressure from fellow Democrats; endorses Vice President Kamala Harris to take on Trump.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Cmdr Wryan Webb)
Yakutat-bound charter flight missing from Juneau

Flight departed from Juneau on Saturday with three people aboard, according to U.S. Coast Guard.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

People take photos of local dignitaries during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Teal Street Center on Thursday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Teal Street Center celebrates with ribbon-cutting a year after social agencies begin providing services

Nine organizations providing legal, disability, counseling and other help open under one roof.

Most Read