Teaching kids about respect

Grey Cup champion JR LaRose is a spokesperson for BC’s Be More Than A Bystander campaign that brings awareness and educates youth on the issue of violence against women

by Sarah Murphy

As part of this year’s 16 Days to End Gender-based Violence campaign, former BC Lions player and 2011 Grey Cup Champion, J.R. LaRose will be returning to the Yukon. LaRose will be visiting on behalf of the Be More Than A Bystander program, a groundbreaking initiative developed in partnership between the BC Lions and Ending Violence Association of B.C., aimed at substantially increasing understanding of the impact of men’s violence against women.

This is LaRose’s second visit to the Yukon. Back in May, he presented at Ecole Emilie Tremblay and at a public event at the Old Fire Hall as part of Sexualized Assault Prevention Month.

From November 28 to December 1 LaRose will be presenting at five different schools in Whitehorse, Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Dawson, reaching close to 1,000 youth with this message about respect and gender equality.

Since its launch in 2011, interest in the program has grown significantly. It has won multiple awards, inspired spin off campaigns by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Football Saskatchewan, and contributed to the development of the Canadian Football League’s policy on Violence Against Women.

The youth education component alone has reached over 80,000 students with in-person presentations delivered by BC Lions spokespeople.

Professional athletes have a unique platform to impact social behavior. Folks of all ages look up to them, but especially youth. Youth are in the process of shaping their values and beliefs, making them especially vulnerable to exposure to harmful messaging about gender from their role models.

Through the Be More Than A Bystander program, professional athletes use their status and public profile to break the silence on violence against women by providing practical ideas about how to speak up and communicate that violence is not acceptable.

“I’m looking forward to inspiring change,” LaRose said about his return to the Yukon. “I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Knowledge is everything, and I think there is a big lack of knowledge [about gender-based violence].”

Each year, the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, Les EssentiElles and many community partners come together to organize the 16 Days campaign and raise awareness about gender-based violence. In Canada, gender-based violence impacts 1 in 4 women and a significant portion of the trans, non-binary and two spirit identified population.

This year’s campaign theme is “It’s Never Okay.” Gender-based violence is the product of an unequal society, and this year’s campaign calls for an end to victim blaming, excuses and ignorance. Healthy attitudes towards people of all genders and an understanding of the profound impacts of gender-based violence can only make our community healthier.

Thank you to the Crime Prevention Victims Services Trust Fund and the Women’s Directorate for their financial contribution to this campaign and project.

What you can do…

Here is a list of the events taking place in Whitehorse to celebrate the 16 Days to End Gender-Based Violence

Nov. 25: Campaign Kick Off

  • Venue: Epic Pizza
  • Time: 7 p.m.

Nov. 27: Film Screening: #Bitch: les filles et la violence

  • Venue: Centre de la Francophonie
  • Time: 6 p.m.

Nov. 28: Live Art Installation for the 16 Days to End Gender-based Violence

  • Venue: Yukon College, at The Pit
  • Time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Dec. 4: Consent Crew (Annual campaign that seeks to reduce the rates of sexualized violence at Yukon music festivals)

  • Venue: Yukon College, at The Pit
  • Time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Dec. 5: Lunch & Learn: Yukon Women in the Sex Trade

  • Venue: Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre
  • Time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Dec. 5: Film Screening: A Better Man

  • Venue: The Old Fire Hall
  • Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dec. 6: Vigil: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

  • Venue: Government of Yukon Main Administration Building
  • Time: 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Dec. 7: Bringing Light to the North: Addressing Issues of LGBTQ2S+ Youth North of 60

  • Venue: Epic Pizza
  • Time: 5-8pm

Dec. 8: Celebrating December 10th: International Human Rights Day with the Yukon Human Rights Commission

  • Venue: Unit #215, 305 Main Street (accessible entrance on 3rd Avenue)
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dec. 8: Workshop on gender-based violence: “It’s Never Okay”

  • Venue: Canada Games Centre
  • Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Originally from Newfoundland, Sarah Murphy moved to Whitehorse in September, 2016. She studied social work at Carleton University and is currently the Program Coordinator at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre.

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