An Evening to Be More Than a Bystander a big success  

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From L to R: George Chayka, Senior Vice President Business (BC Lions); Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh; back row: Jamie Taras, Director, Community Partnerships (BC Lions), Andrew Peirson, Bystander presenter and BC Lions player; Will Loftus, Bystander facilitator; Jackson Katz, PhD, international educator and leader; Hon. Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General; Angus Reid, Bystander facilitator; Sukh Chungh, Bystander presenter and BC Lions player. Front row: Dr. Harry Stefanakis, clinical and consulting psyhcologist; Sussanne Skidmore, President, BC Federation of Labour; Hon. Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care; Ninu Kang, Executive Director (EVA BC); Kate Rossiter, Director of Provincial Services (EVA BC); Raminder Dosanjh, community activist.
On June 4, EVA BC and the BC Lions Football Club co-hosted a networking reception celebrating the Be More Than a Bystander program with special guest Jackson Katz, an internationally renowned educator and leader in the global movement of men working to promote gender equality and prevent gender-based violence. Katz’s Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program in the USA was an inspiration for the creation of EVA BC’s Bystander program. His return to Vancouver to help train more Bystander facilitators marked the first time he’d been back since the program launched in 2011.   

Ninu Kang, executive director of EVA BC, opened the event thanking the current BC Lions players who were there, noting that, to date, BC Lions players have shared the Be More Than a Bystander message to more than 10,000 high school students in BC. 

She also acknowledged the Province of BC for its long-time support for the Bystander program and applauded its recent renewed support to fund sexual assault services across the province and the opening of five new sexual assault centres.  

The Honourable Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General (MPSSG) for the province, spoke saying he celebrated the “incredible partnership between EVA BC and the BC Lions on … domestic violence and gender-based violence.” He shared his pride for the program and his continued interest in its work. 

George Chayka, Senior Vice President Business for the BC Lions said,  

“When we talk about this program, just like in sports, there is a lot of passion, there’s a lot of excitement. Out of all the community programs that we’ve done, this one has been recognized at the United Nations, it’s the first of its type, it’s proactive as far as changing the mindset, it’s about helping to educate our youth and helping to correct the learnings that have been passed on from generation to generation.”

Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL) said, 

“I’m so proud of the work the BC Lions have done; they’re truly leaders in this area. We’re not the biggest league in the world, but I think pound-for-pound, player-for-player, there’s no league in the world whose players do more for their communities than our league. And all of you, all of us together, are on the same team, working together to make our world a better place for everyone.” 

The event was a great success, with nearly 70 guests that included leaders from industry workplaces and labour, and government officials including the Minister of Education and Child Care, the Honourable Rachna Singh, and former premier of BC and former national Minister of Health, the Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh. They gathered with leaders and players from the BC Lions, the Canadian Football League (CFL) who brought the Grey Cup to the event, (Vancouver will host the 2024 Grey Cup game on November 17 and just launched ticket sales), and EVA BC. It was a wonderful opportunity for networking and celebrating the achievements in championing workplace safety and the long-term impact of the Be More Than a Bystander program.  

Katz began his talk by acknowledging the work of “powerful women leaders” over a relatively short span of time — “just a couple of generations” — to create the systems that support survivors of gender-based violence today, along with programs that do work to prevent violence and promote change. He also noted that it is still relatively uncommon to see equal numbers of men and women joining to discuss gender-based violence. 

Katz said “the day when you have an event organized around gender-based violence that has a 50-50 split of men and women, and others, in the room, that will be the day that we will have dramatically reduced domestic and sexual violence, because we will have created the social change necessary that we won’t have the level of harassment, abuse and violence that we have now.”  

He emphasized that it is leaders — in workplaces, sports teams and other communities — who are the key to making the needed change as they set the tone for their workplace or community. 

Katz reflected on the long time he has been doing this work and what gives him hope now: 

“There’s new excitement because the possibilities today are greater than they ever have been,” he said. “I think there are more men who are willing to take a public stance. And it’s incredible how fast things can change if you have men, especially in positions of influence, who are willing to take a step forward.” 

BC Lions’ Bystander spokesman, facilitator, author and former champion athlete, Angus Reid, closed the event and thanked Katz for his work to: “give us information so we can’t be ignorant, give us tools so we can have confidence and give us support so we can have courage, so we can act.” Reid agreed with the importance of leadership to make change and the value of the Bystander program to show us how. “Let’s make a culture that everyone wants to fit into that models a healthy, good, safe, encouraging, positive culture,” said Reid. “This [Bystander] program really, really does.” 

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