Helping the public speak out against violence towards women will be the focus of a series of presentations by a former B.C. Lion touring the Northwest this week.
J.R. LaRose, who is from One Arrow First Nation in Saskatchewan, will visit Smithers, Hazelton, Moricetown and Gitsegukla to deliver school talks and free public events on Wednesday and Thursday.
His tour is part of the Be More Than A Bystander initiative, which is a partnership between the Ending Violence Association of BC and the BC Lions Canadian football team.
LaRose will be offering tools, language and practical ideas about how to speak up against abuse.
Northern Society for Domestic Peace executive director Carol Seychuk said her organization had been trying to bring the program to the Northwest for several years.
She said it delivered a much-needed message that the public should break tradition by speaking up about violence against women.
“As a society we’re not comfortable, necessarily, speaking up, and we’re not socialized, necessarily, to speak up against things that we don’t believe are okay,” said Seychuk.
“That goes for violence against women, it goes for racism, sexual assault.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of having a couple of tools, and sometimes it is a matter of combining all of our voices and saying that it’s not okay and saying that we need to all stand up and say something.”
Seychuk said it was also important for the public to be outspoken against violence in order to push for societal and legislative change.
“It validates that it’s not [the victims’] fault and that it’s wrong and that we do need to speak out and that it’s okay to do that,” she said.
Be More Than A Bystander is an annual program, through which BC Lions players travel the Province to promote respectful relationships to youth in Grades 8-12.
The players also advise amateur football coaches on how to speak to their own players about violence against women and girls, as well as recording public service announcements encouraging people to speak up.
J.R. LaRose will speak at the Gitsegukla Community Centre at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and at the Moricetown Multiplex at noon on Thursday. He will also deliver school talks in Hazelton and Smithers.