CFL club aims to combat violence against women with new program
SURREY, B.C. - The B.C. Lions have joined with women's, labour and government organizations to help fight violence against women.
The CFL club announced a partnership Thursday, called Be More Than a Bystander, with the Ending Violence Association, Status of Women Canada, B.C. Government Employees Union and the province's Ministry of Child and Family Services.
"You want to make sure that you take a small seed and you put some sun and you put some water in and let it grow and bloom," said Lions coach Mike Benevides following a news conference at the team's Surrey, B.C., practice facility. "That's what's happening."
The two-year project is aimed at the majority of men who do not commit violence against women and get them to speak out against the minority that do.
"You've got to stop the violence," said Benevides. "You've got to make sure that everybody is saying the right things. That's exactly the program that we're proud to be part of."
Lions veterans Travis Lulay, Shawn Gore, Ben Archibald, Dean Valli, J.R. LaRose and Angus Reid visited numerous schools in communities across B.C. in the off-season, concentrating on students in grades 8-12, as part of the program.
Tracy Porteous, executive-director of EVA, said the program was developed in response to calls from the World Health Organization and other international groups to set up something like it, and is not replicated anywhere else.
Program organizers are also aiming to make it socially unacceptable and uncomfortable to commit violence against women.
According to Porteous, more than half of Canadian women experience sexual or physical violence from the time they turn 16. In B.C., 60,000 women annually experience violence.
"Women need to shift these social attitudes about violence and get it away from the private realm to make it everybody's business," she said.