On June 22, 2017, we hosted our Annual General Meeting and report to the community.
The evening included an update on the impact we had in 2016 and we also unveiled a new initiative we are launching in 2017: #CalgaryGetsConsent. Inspired in part by the success of the #SafeStampede initiative, we have partnered with several local groups to launch the #CalgaryGetsConsent campaign. Funded by a grant from the Alberta Status of Women, #CalgaryGetsConsent is a year-long campaign that will aim to raise awareness and provide education about consent by initiating a community-wide conversation, and to provide community members with tools to discuss consent.
Along with our project partners, over the next year we will be providing opportunities for conversation and awareness, as well as providing free training workshops for night clubs, organizations, venues and festivals. In recent weeks, the team has been training Calgary Stampede staff for their Nashville North venue and other staff on the grounds. The group would like to see that trend continue with other venues during Stampede, as well as other clubs and festivals throughout the year.
We invite any and all venues and festivals across the city to consider our free workshops to help ensure a safe, fun experience for all your guests and staff.
The evening also featured a powerful speech by Mr. Glen Canning. Glen is the father of Rehtaeh Anne Parsons, a Nova Scotia teenager who was sexually assaulted by four males at a home near Halifax in November 2011. Rehtaeh ended her life April 4th, 2013, following months of cyber-abuse and victim blaming. Glen has spoken about Rehtaeh’s case internationally and across Canada. Along with his daughter’s mother, Leah Parsons, he has helped bring about changes to the Criminal Code of Canada. For his work, Glen and Leah, along with Amanda Todd’s mother Carol, received the Rosalind Prober Award for Advocacy in 2013.
We were deeply moved and inspired by Glen’s speech, and it reinforced our commitment to educating our community about consent. It also emphasized the important work that our WiseGuyz team does with young men in junior and senior high schools in our city.
“Speaking about Rehtaeh is a way to keep her voice alive,” said Glen in his address at our AGM. “I’m here to talk about change. We need men to ‘Man Up’. To stand up against violence again women. We need men to use their strengths to help, not hurt. ”
“There is a Rehtaeh in every school across Canada,” Glen continued. “This is a cultural thing. Its not something that four young men did. Its society. Where would Rehtaeh be if even one of those boys had understood consent and spoke up? Silence is the most brutal weapon.”
It was a deeply moving experience for everyone in the room. We were humbled and inspired by the call to action for continuing the important conversation about consent. Thank you Glen.