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Cyclist riding to end the cycle of violence
Joachim Ostertag is doing his part to change the cycle of violence against women.
Ostertag has combined his passion of cycling with his desire to end violence against women with the Change the Cycle bicycle tour. The tour started in Owen Sound, Ontario on June 20, with Ostertag ending his solo tour in Vancouver later this summer.
Ostertag's daughter Sonya, who has lived and worked in the north, encouraged her father to include Hwy 16, referred to as the Highway of Tears, in his ride. Ostertag completed the Highway of Tears part of the tour in Prince Rupert Wednesday, with the North Coast Transition Society welcoming him to the community with a barbecue.
"Violence against women is a huge problem and a lot of problems can be addressed through awareness," Christine White from the North Coast Transition Society said, adding the society wanted to welcome someone doing so much to end an issue the transition society addresses on a daily basis.
The Change the Cycle rider had cycled 4,800 kilometres by the time he reached Prince Rupert, reaching 5,000 km by the time he completes his tour in Vancouver.
Along the way Ostertag has been starting a dialogue with people in communities while also raising money and awareness in hopes of ending the issue.
Ostertag said people have seemed excited about the tour, and he's had a lot of positive dialogue with people on the route.
"Being on the road gives me lots of time to think about good conversations I've had along the way," he said.
Ostertag has worked in a men's program in Ontario for more than 23 years and said the issue of violence against women needs to addressed collaboratively by both females and males.
"I witness the sexist and degrading beliefs and behaviours many men hold and which are perpetuated in popular culture, media and pornography. But I am also familiar with men's great desire for a better and more equal society," he said.
Aside from the North Coast Transition Society and those in attendance at the barbecue, other Prince Rupert organizations assisted in welcoming the cyclist. The Pioneer Backpackers Inn donated a room for Ostertag for the evening while Overwaitea donated the hot dogs for the barbecue.