By now, we all know that the B.C. Lions came back from a tough start and won the Grey Cup.
How many of us are aware however, that the team has taken on an even tougher challenge.
The B.C. Lions have entered into a partnership with the Status of Women Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Children & Family Development to raise awareness of violence against women and girls through a three-year initiative called Be More Than a Bystander.
The Lions will use their status and public profile to talk to students in Grades 8 to 12 about how their individual choices and actions can be part of creating positive social change and how to speak up and communicate that violence and abuse is not acceptable.
This initiative will enhance other efforts being made on the same front.
From now until Jan. 27 the federal government, through the Status of Women Canada, will accept funding proposals from our community for projects that seek to end violence against women on university and college campuses.
More information is available at Status of Women Canada through the Women’s Program at www.swc-cfc.gc.ca.
The call for proposals comes during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence which began on Nov. 25 with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The 16 days also encompasses Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on Dec. 6 in memory of the tragedy that took place in Montreal in 1989.
Violence against women comes in many forms: physical violence, ranging from slapping and hitting to assault and murder; emotional or psychological violence involving systematic undermining of an individual’s self-confidence, intimidation and verbal abuse; sexual violence, which encompasses all non-consensual or coerced sexual activity including incest and rape; financial violence, involving partial or total loss of control of one’s finances; and neglect, involving deliberate denial of human rights and the necessities of life.
Women and girls are more likely than men to experience violence and assault in intimate and family relationships and while admission to shelters has been relatively stable since 1998, between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010, admissions of abused women to Canada’s shelters exceeded 64,000.
It only scratches the surface of the number of people who are affected. Children in particular, who witness family violence, suffer severe disruption not only to their psychological stability but also to their education and their economic stability.
That is why the federal government will continue to take additional measures to help women be safer, more secure and more economically self-sufficient.
In this respect, the government has taken a number of measures, including investing over $39 million in funding through Status of Women Canada for projects to end violence in communities and an additional $10 million over two years to address the alarming number of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
The government is also making legislative changes to ensure women’s safety by taking action against human trafficking, raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 years to protect young people from sexual exploitation and ending conditional sentencing, including house arrest, for serious offences, such as violent and sexual crimes against women and girls.
As a father of three daughters, I applaud the B.C. Lions, the province and our federal government for continuing to make violence against women and girls a priority and for working with our community to address the issues.
During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and beyond, we must acknowledge within our families, our communities and our country there is still much to be done.
Ron Cannan is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country. If you have any questions regarding the federal government, please do not hesitate to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-470-5075.