The #CalgaryGetsConsent project recently marked its one year anniversary. The project was originally intended to be a one-year project aimed at providing opportunities for conversation and awareness around consent and sexual violence, as well as providing free training workshops for night clubs, organizations, venues and festivals. Due to the tremendous response to the project, its work will continue as a full time program with the Centre for Sexuality (formerly known as Calgary Sexual Health Centre). The following report was provided to the Centre by the #CalgaryGetsConsent project coordinator:

“Since the beginning of this project, we have created curriculum for four different workshop topics, including Bystander Intervention Training for community members; a workshop about consent in real-life relationships, called Let’s TALK About Sex; Providing Safer Establishments, a popular training for bars and music venues; and a recently-piloted workshop about masculinities and consent, called Helping Guyz Be Wise. These workshops have been widely requested by various organizations and communities in Calgary, and we continue to get increasing numbers of workshop requests.

In the past year, we have facilitated 52 workshops to 2161 participants thus far. We have delivered these workshops in 7 community settings that were open to the public, 13 bars/clubs in Calgary, 4 festival settings, and 4 post-secondary institutions. We have received a lot of positive feedback from the community about our workshops; people are reporting that it is a great to have an opportunity to get tools on how to address sexual violence in their communities. Additionally, we have been asked to collaborate on several community events, including Bystander Presentations at BarTalksYYC, an Association of Funding Professionals breakfast, a Calgary Stampede Staff Training, and the SAIT Speaker Series; the Alberta’s Nightlife Harm Reduction Panel at AEMCON; booths at various University of Calgary events, including Jackson Katz’s talk; and a Living Library conversation at the Women’s Centre of Calgary. We were also excited to be featured at Market Collective’s #MC9Year celebration in September.

As we state in our workshops, our goal in intervening is not necessarily to change individuals’ beliefs all at once, but to create safer environments for folks who have experienced sexual violence and to open the conversation about consent, sexual violence, and bystander intervention. We also know that transgender folks, women, and girls are some of the groups that are most affected by sexual violence. We believe that providing space, curriculum, and tools to community members to talk about consent and become active bystanders, we will contribute to the reduction in sexual violence in Alberta. By providing general education and awareness to our communities, we are hopeful that people will gain the confidence to intervene if they see something violent occurring, and to provide support to someone if they have had negative experiences.

Among the great partnerships we’ve made in the past year is the one with the Status of Women Ministry, including the work we’ve been able to do so far on the Bystander Training Provincial Working Group. As an organization, we very much appreciate the opportunity to collaborate across the province to ensure that everyone has access to this type of training. We greatly value every chance to learn from other organizations about what they are doing, what works, and what doesn’t in this line of work. We are very grateful for this partnership.”