Treena Smith’s December 6, 2017, Comments: Don’t stand by. Stand with.

We were honoured to have Treena Smith as the speaker at the Charlottetown, PEI, 2017, Montreal Massacre Memorial Service, hosted by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

We invited Treena to speak because of her work leading pro-social bystander intervention training through her work as Director of Student Affairs at UPEI. Treena also has an extensive background working with offenders and gives a lot of her volunteer time to work with the LGBTQ+ community and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Below are a video of her comments, followed by a transcript.
Thank you so much, Treena, for being part of a meaningful and moving service.

Hi everyone – My name is Treena Smith and I am the Director of Student Affairs at UPEI.

I would like to thank Michelle Jay, Jane Ledwell and the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women for asking me to speak here today.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the ancestral and unceded territory of Epekwitk, the Mi’kmaq name for Prince Edward Island, and Mi’kma’ki, the territory of the Mi’kmaw People of this region.

I also want to remember all the missing and murdered Indigenous and non-Indigenous women who have lost their lives due to violence.

I vividly remember December 6, 1989. I was ending my first semester of my first year of my first degree. I remember trying to find out information and processing why these women were shot…..just for being women.

I remember seeing women on campus crying and being very vocal about violence against women and the need for more education, support and resources ……. and here we are in 2017…..asking for the same things.

It has been 28 years since that day – I finished that degree at UPEI and went on to get other degrees and more education on life……moved provinces, worked in different areas but there has been one constant ‘violence against women’.

I think everyone in this room would agree that violence against women is a huge problem in our world — but we continued to be under resourced.

We live in a world where one of the most powerful men in the world can be overheard talking about sexually assaulting women and not loose his job – but we are also living in a world where the #metoo campaign has been exploding.

Social media is a powerful force but what is evident to me is that most women whom I know have experienced some sort of sexual assault or harassment in their lives. More women are speaking about their own need for resources, supports and education on a personal level.

With all that said – I have hope – a lot of hope for our world.

As I said at the beginning I work at UPEI and have the privilege everyday to work with students. Students are working very hard at making the world a better place to live and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with them. I have the best job in the world.

One of the reasons I am here today is to talk about a program which I brought to UPEI 3 years ago called the Bystander Intervention program. I believe this program can be delivered in many different areas of our community.

Three years ago myself and some of my colleagues went to St. Mary’s University to receive training to facilitate the Bringing in the Bystander Intervention Program through the University of New Hampshire.

We received the training, bought the program and started implementing the program immediately at UPEI.

Bringing in the Bystander Program fits very well with this years Purple Ribbon Campaign of

Don’t Stand By. Stand With.

Bringing in the Bystander is a 2-hour workshop where we facilitate groups of 20-25 people and teach them how to be prosocial bystanders.

Prosocial bystanders are bystanders whose behaviour intervenes in situations, which impact the outcome positively.

Participants of this program will hopefully come to understand that everyone has an important role to play in the intervention and prevention of sexual violence.

Rather than focusing strictly on the roles of perpetrator and victim, the highly interactive Bringing in the Bystander Prevention Program uses a community of responsibility approach.

It teaches participants how to safely intervene in instances where an incident may be occurring or where there may be risk.

We use videos and group discussions to help participants see that each and every one of us has the power to change not only specific situations or outcomes, but the power to challenge social norms around sexual violence.

Participants learn how to identify inappropriate behaviour along the continuum of sexual and relationship violence and how to respond to it safely.

The main objectives of this program are to help students develop critical thinking skills and the ability to talk about sexual violence education in a way that is productive and non-threatening.

Recently a facilitator of the program was out shopping downtown Ch’town and a student approached him to let him know what a positive impact the workshop has had on him and his friends. It’s pretty powerful when over a year later student was willing to have that discussion with a facilitator.

We have offered this program to more than 600 people and it has allowed us to start the conversation and education about sexual violence.

Working with students, in programs like this, and having important and challenging discussions, continues to give me hope for a better and safer world for women.

Thank you

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