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Stepping Up Against Gender Violence – Paxton Caseley Memorial Service Address

DSC_0265If I ask you to think about an example of gender-based violence, it’s likely that for most of us, some of the first things that come to mind are the tragedies and more explosive events that leave their mark on individuals, families, and at times their communities. But the sad reality is that violence begins much earlier. It is something that grows and like everything that grows, it starts somewhere small. The beginnings of gender-based violence are all around us in our everyday lives. It’s the demeaning or sexist joke that someone might have said in passing. It’s ways in which women are objectified and over-sexualized in our media. It’s the constricting gender-roles and expectations that are forced upon women from the time they are born. The list goes on and on.

When we idly stand by, don’t speak up, or don’t question these things, we are giving permission for violence to occur. We are enabling the sexist remarks and reinforcing the superior attitudes of the person who make these demeaning jokes. We are allowing women to be erased, diminished, and minimized by forcing them to fit into gender roles that demand their silence and obedience. And it also means that we are telling women that their intelligence and tenacity are not as valuable as it is to be palatable. Talking about and treating women as though we are less are the beginnings of violence. When women and female-identifying individuals are viewed as being second-class, it can quickly descend into dangerous thinking and actions. Not only does it mean that our voices, opinions, and concerns do not hold as much merit or importance; but it also means that when we do speak up about inequality or our right to feel safe and be free of harassment, abuse, and violence that we are not being taken seriously, we are dismissed, we are subjected to gas-lighting, we are asked what were we wearing, and we are told that it probably wasn’t as bad as we thought.

And so, these seemingly small acts of violence all add up to perpetuate, or even allow violence to continue.

This year’s theme is about taking action to prevent violence against women and we all have a role to play. When I’ve taught bystander intervention courses, I always like to remind people that bystander intervention doesn’t have to look like a dramatic scene from a soap opera. You don’t need to be a hero. It’s truly as simple as voicing your discomfort if you hear someone make degrading comment. It de-escalates the situation and creates a pause in whatever momentum they may have had, and hopefully following that pause there will be some internal reflection.

This past year, I had the opportunity to work with students and various organizations across Canada as we worked to address the issue of sexual violence on post-secondary campuses. I heard from many survivors and victims of their personal experiences, and no matter where they were from or which province they studied in, I kept hearing time and time again of the damage and hurt that occurs when school administrators, police officers, friends, or even family refuse to believe them. Because rather than receive the support and justice that they rightfully deserve, they are often found at a standstill and are unable to move forward. In the context of post-secondary institutions, all too often we saw that student survivors were being punished for coming forward, and if they were not placed under gag order, forced to see their perpetrator on campus and in classes, or being revictimized by investigators, they were dropping out and unable to continue their education without the needed and deserved safety and support. When you find yourself in a situation where something horrific and traumatic has happened to you, that fear does not leave you for a very long time, or perhaps it never does. It takes tremendous courage to speak up and tell someone, especially as there is often a significant risk involved in disclosing your experience. This is why it is crucial for there to be institutional accountability in the form of provincial legislation and regulations because despite what we would like to believe, institutions do not always have the best interests of student survivors in mind.

So not only do we need to learn to recognize violent behaviours, but we also need to believe the survivors and victims of violence. We all have an important role to play in the prevention of gender-based violence. We can choose to take action or remain inactive, but no matter your choice, remember that both have their consequences. And so I ask you to listen and believe survivors, speak up when something doesn’t seem right, intervene and de-escalate the situation, but above all.. be the change that you want to see.

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2018 Memorial Service Gallery

The selection of photos below are from the December 6, 2018 Memorial Service for Victims of Violence held at the Confederation Centre of the Arts (venue sponsor). Thanks to everyone who attended the service and participated in the 2018 Purple Ribbon Campaign Against Violence.

We remember 1989
29 Years Since the Montreal Massacre

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you would prefer to view photos individually, view them at this link:

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Food Awareness Act Input

In October 2018, the Government of Prince Edward Island opened a process of consultation on a Food Awareness Act for PEI and sought advice on legislation and policy. Members of the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women engaged in an email consultation to answer the questions posed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and submitted responses in November 2018.

The PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women’s responses are available in this document: Input into the Food Awareness Act, November 20, 2018

For more information about the proposed act, visit https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/agriculture-and-fisheries/food-awareness-act-prince-edward-island

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Memorial Services for Victims of Violence

Time to step up. Be ready to prevent violence against women.

The Purple Ribbon Campaign Against Violence (Campagne du ruban violet contre la violence) was initiated by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women in 1991 to remember the 14 women who were murdered at L’École Polytechnique in Montreal in December 1989, and to raise awareness about violence against women.

Charlottetown Memorial Service

CHARLOTTETOWN
12:00 noon, Thursday, December 6

Memorial Hall, Confederation Centre of the Arts (venue sponsor)
Richmond Street
Charlottetown

29 years after the horrific murder of 14 women at L’École Polytechnique in Montreal, we gather to remember, to mourn, and to work for change. We will be commemorating the young women who died in Montreal and the 10 Island women who have been killed by partners or someone who knew them since 1989. And we will recommit to ending violence against women everywhere.

The special service will include an address by Paxton Caseley of Our Turn; poetry by Lily Lévesque; Mi’kmaw opening prayer with Elder Julie Pellissier-Lush; music by the O Beautiful Gaia singers; and Dylan Menzie accompanying on piano. Family members, dignitaries, and community activists will light candles in remembrance of those whose lives were cut short because they were women. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Contact Michelle at 902-368-4510 / info@peistatusofwomen.ca

– 2018 Purple Ribbon Campaign, blog and website

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Summerside Memorial Service

SUMMERSIDE
12:00 noon, Thursday, December 6
Trinity United Church
90 Spring Street
Guest Speaker: Hon. Tina Mundy
More info: 902-436-9856
East Prince Women’s Information Centre

First mourn, then work for change
We remember 1989

29 Years Since the Montreal Massacre

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2018-2019 Purple Ribbon Campaign

Time to step up. Be ready to prevent violence against women.

The Purple Ribbon Campaign Against Violence (Campagne du ruban violet contre la violence) was initiated by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women in 1991 to remember the 14 women who were murdered at L’École Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989, and to raise awareness about violence against women.

Time to step up. Be ready to prevent violence against women. What does it mean to “step up” when we witness situations of violence? We can take actions that may have a huge impact in preventing harm. Everyone who witnesses bullying, abuse, or violence can take responsibility to intervene in some way to make a positive difference. Taking action when we see signs of violence is being ready and stepping up for people who experience violence. Even small actions can make a difference and may even save a life. With every action to help, together, we can build a community ready to step up against violence.

Six steps to taking action when we see signs of abuse or violence
1. Notice that something is happening
2. Recognize signs of abuse or violence in what is happening
3. Take responsibility for providing help
4. Assess safety: the victim’s, the aggressor’s, yours, and others’ nearby
5. Decide how to help in a way that keeps us and the people around us safe
6. Take action to help



Memorial Services for Victims of Violence

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. On and around December 6, candle-lighting services remember 14 young Women who in 1989 were murdered because they were women in what became known as the Montreal Massacre.

We remember ten women since 1989 murdered on Prince Edward Island by men who knew them. Join others in your community to light a candle of remembrance, to remember, to reflect, and to act so these murders end.

First mourn, then work for change
We remember 1989

29 Years Since the Montreal Massacre 

CHARLOTTETOWN
12:00 noon, Thursday, December 6
Memorial Hall, Confederation Centre of the Arts (venue sponsor)
Mi’kmaw ceremony & prayers: Elder Julie Pellissier-Lush
Guest Speaker: Paxton Caseley, Our Turn
Poetry by Lily Lévesque
Music: O Beautiful Gaia singers
Music to Accompany Candlelighting: Dylan Menzie (piano)
More info: 902-368-4510
PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Candles will be lit in commemoration of the 14 women who were murdered in Montreal in 1989 and the 10 Island women who have died at the hands of violent men since that year.
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SUMMERSIDE
12:00 noon, Thursday, December 6
Trinity United Church
90 Spring Street, Summerside
Guest Speaker: Hon. Tina Mundy
More info: 902-436-9856
East Prince Women’s Information Centre

FINAL-2018-montreal massacre invitation


Teachers Resource Guide (Bilingual)
A Feature of the 2018 Purple Ribbon Campaign

Resource Guides
Handouts for Students / Documents à distribuer aux étudiants … PDF
Resources for Teachers / Ressources pour les enseignants … PDF
Resources to print on 11×17″ paper … PDF


Multilingual Poster

Time to step up. Be ready to prevent violence against women.

This year’s multilingual 11”x17” poster highlights the Purple Ribbon Campaign theme “Time to step up. Be ready to prevent violence against women” in English, French, Mi’kmaq, Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin, Nepali, Vietnamese, and Spanish. These represent the founding and most commonly spoken languages of our province. Posters are available by request.  Download printable multilingual poster.

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Bystander Infographic

(Click infographic to view larger)
English

2017-ENG-bystander-infographic

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French

2017-FRE-bystander-infographic


Orientation Sheet, 2013, PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Artwork: “Seeds” by Mari Basiletti. This work was commissioned by and hangs in the waiting room of the PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Centre, Charlottetown.


Pinning Bee – Wednesday, November 14, 2018

2018-purple-ribbon-pinning-bee-poster

An evening pinning bee to prepare ribbons and cards for the 2018-2019 Purple Ribbon Campaign is being hosted by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women, together with the working group planning Family Violence Prevention Week 2019 for the Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention. The theme this year is: Time to step up. Be ready to prevent violence against women.

Annually, approximately 17,000 ribbons are cut and pinned to information cards by volunteers and distributed across the Island. The purple ribbons are worn to signify a commitment to remembering the 14 women murdered in Montreal in 1989, a horrific act of gender-based violence in Canadian history. We also wear purple ribbons to honour the memory of the Island women murdered by someone who knew them since 1989. And we wear ribbons to show our support for ending all violence against women in our communities.

  • Join us on Wednesday, November 14 for coffee, tea, snacks and conversation. Everyone welcome.
    6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
    Confederation Centre Public Library
    145 Richmond Street, Charlottetown.

For more information contact the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women at info@peistatusofwomen.ca or 902-368-4510.

To see a few photos from the Pinning Bee, click on this Facebook post link.


Thank You…

Thank you to the 2018 contributors to the Purple Ribbon Campaign for generous assistance. This list will be updated weekly, as contributors are confirmed:

  • Federated Women’s Institutes of PEI
  • Aboriginal Women’s Association
  • Confederation Centre of the Arts – Venue Sponsor
  • Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention (PAC)
  • Office of the Premier
  • City of Charlottetown
  • Melissa Coffin, PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada
  • Translators: Thirly Levi (Mi’kmaq), Caitlyn Huynh (Vietnamese), Rocio McCallum (Spanish). Alex Yin (Mandarin Chinese), Krishna K. Thakur (Nepali), Farahnaz Rezaei (Arabic and Farsi) and the Translation | Traduction : Service de traduction du gouvernement de l’Î.-P.-É. (French).
  • Staff at Anderson House, Family Violence Prevention Services
  • Julie MacKay, UPEI student volunteer
  • Members of the public who attended the Pinning Bee
  • Ann Marie, Pat, Brent, and Dan for their tremendous help with our Purple Ribbon mailout
  • Brandy and Conner Beasley, and Maribeth Rogers Neale for assisting with collating and distributing purple ribbons and teachers’ guides
  • Paxton Caseley, guest speaker
  • Lily Lévesque for her poem “The Wolf”
  • O Beautiful Gaia singers
  • Dylan Menzie for piano accompaniment
  • Julie Pellissier-Lush for offering Mi’kmaw prayer
  • Eileen LeClair for bringing the UPSE Silent Witnesses silhouettes
  • Dawn Wilson
  • Lynn MacNeil
  • Dan Lee
  • Michelle Buttery for providing emotional care during the service
  • Interministerial Women’s Secretariat and Hearts & Flowers
  • Advisory Council members
  • Rob Warren and Paul Wood
  • and all of the candle-lighters – family members and friends of murdered PEI women, representatives of organizations working to prevent violence against women, and community leaders/dignitaries

Photos

Pinning Bee volunteers keeping busy at the Pinning Bee at the Confederation Centre Public Library.

Volunteers helping with the annual Purple Ribbon Campaign mailout. Thanks to Pat, Brent, Dan, and Ann Marie (missing from photo).

Click for more on past Purple Ribbon Campaigns.

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2018 Purple Ribbon Pinning Bee

An evening pinning bee to prepare ribbons and cards for the 2018-2019 Purple Ribbon Campaign is being hosted by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women, together with the working group planning Family Violence Prevention Week 2019 for the Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention. The theme this year is: Time to step up. Be ready to prevent violence against women.

Annually, approximately 17,000 ribbons are cut and pinned to information cards by volunteers and distributed across the Island. The purple ribbons are worn to signify a commitment to remembering the 14 women murdered in Montreal in 1989, a horrific act of gender-based violence in Canadian history. We also wear purple ribbons to honour the memory of the Island women murdered by someone who knew them since 1989. And we wear ribbons to show our support for ending all violence against women in our communities.

  • Join us on Wednesday, November 14 for coffee, tea, snacks and conversation. Everyone welcome.
    6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
    Confederation Centre Public Library
    145 Richmond Street, Charlottetown.

For more information contact the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women at info@peistatusofwomen.ca or 902-368-4510.

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Update PEI’s Sex-Ed Curriculum – Let Us Help

Many parts of Prince Edward Island’s sexual health education curriculum are more than twenty years old, and community organizations are calling on the Government of PEI to engage knowledgeable organizations, individuals, educators, and parents to update the curriculum to meet the needs of today’s students.

Below is an Open Letter from PEERS Alliance, PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and Women’s Network PEI, posted here on behalf of the co-signers.

July 25, 2018

Hon. Jordan Brown
Minister of Education and Early Learning
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Dear Minister Brown:

Happy PRIDE Week in Prince Edward Island!

Recently, the new Ontario government has announced that it will revert to a sexual health education curriculum last updated in 1998, setting aside an evidence-based, consent-based curriculum that was developed with significant public consultation and implemented in 2015.

This is a regressive move. The 2015 Ontario sexual health education curriculum includes many elements that contemporary students need: curriculum that goes beyond reproductive biology and supplements what they learn at home with age-appropriate answers to the real-world questions they are living. Many people who care about young people and their sexual health are appalled that Ontario will return to a curriculum that is 20 years old.

And yet, many elements of Prince Edward Island’s sexual health education curriculum are even older. For example, the Family Life Education curriculum for Grade 10 has not been updated since 1995. It predates legal same-sex marriage (2005), PEI’s human rights protection for gender identity and gender expression (2013), in-province access to abortion care (2016), numerous trends in sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) transmission and treatment, and numerous innovations in contraception – not to mention the advent of social media and widespread access to the Internet. It is focused on reproductive biology and is based on abstinence as the appropriate/default sexual behaviour for young people.

We acknowledge that many excellent educators across the province go beyond the minimum expectations set in curriculum and that curriculum specialists have done their best with what exists. We recognize that there are excellent resources in use and in development that address healthy relationships, consent, and other crucial issues. And yet, a curriculum is a foundation. A curriculum is important. Its content sets the base and communicates implicit values. And it is time for PEI to set a new base and communicate more inclusive and appropriate values for 2018.

As Ontario recognized with its 2015 curriculum, today’s students need more. They need information that includes dynamics of consent, healthy relationships, and healthy sexuality; the range of sexual orientations and sexual behaviours; the many ways to build a family; the spectrum of gender identities, experiences, and expressions; and the many ways people communicate about sex and sexuality, including using the Internet and social media. They need culturally sensitive messages that respect the diversity of students’ backgrounds. Students need up-to-date and accurate information to be sexually healthy, to promote others’ sexual health, to behave sexually in ways that are safe and appropriate, and to be safe themselves. These are not questions that young people can safely google, and not all conversations are possible or welcome at home.

Good, up-to-date sexual health education helps protect young people from many harms. Good sexual health education helps protect against sexual abuse, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation. It protects against transmission of STBBIs and unwanted pregnancies. It provides them with tools to say no to activity they don’t want and yes to activity they do want – in ways that keep them safe.

We, the undersigned organizations, call on Prince Edward Island’s Department of Education and Early Learning to develop a new, comprehensive, and up-to-date sexual health curriculum for Prince Edward Island students from K–12.

We offer our partnership and support and our willingness to work with government to co-develop a curriculum that responds to Prince Edward Island young people’s contemporary realities and needs.

Sincerely,
PEERS Alliance
PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women
Women’s Network PEI

cc: Hon. Paula Biggar, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women

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