Sioux Lookout, Pelican Falls ask #NowWhat?
Tyllore Martelle - Staff Writer
In light of the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns that have been shedding light on the issue of sexual violence and gender discrimination in Canada as well as the rest of the world, some people are now wondering, #NowWhat?
Under the leadership of New Vision Unlimited, a collaborative effort known as Building Communities of Trust is working toward empowering groups of people with the knowledge and skills to build a culture of respect and consent.
Last week, Erin Horvath of New Vision Unlimited and Bill Pozzobon of Safeteen visited Queen Elizabeth District High School and Pelican Falls First Nations High School to conduct informative workshops at the schools.
“This is an Upstander workshop which means instead of teaching people to be bystanders and stand by while things are happening, we’re teaching them to stand up for equality, consent, and basically helping them build cultures of consent within their schools,” Horvath explained. “We started looking at the difference between love, attraction, attachment, and abuse. We talked about how to understand where your boundaries are and what it feels like when they are violated. Internationally right now we have the #MeToo going on where women especially have been speaking up about their experiences about sexual violence. The conversation going on is awesome, but people don’t necessarily know what to do so we needed to become the #NowWhat?” Horvath added.
Pozzobon added, “We’re trying to create opportunities for youth to see that A: there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing or feeling, as long as everyone is age appropriate and safe and B: also trying to create a template that they can use throughout their life in understanding their sexuality and how they feel about other people. It also gives them a positive roadmap to go forward instead of a roadblock telling them what not to do.”
The two day workshops held at each school were designed to equip teams of students with the skills necessary to prevent, intervene, and respond to sexual assault and harassment while also challenging social norms that allow sexual harassment and violence.
The program currently operates in five schools throughout Northwestern Ontario.
The local collaborating organizations include: New Vision Unlimited, Safeteen, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre - Assault Care and Treatment Program, Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre, Dilico Anishnabek Family Care and more.