When Be More Than a Bystander launched in 2011, the program had four main goals: develop a broad public awareness campaign featuring BC Lions players; create school curriculum and teaching materials and train BC Lions to deliver in-person presentations in high schools throughout BC; deliver training to football coaches in the province on how to talk to kids about violence against women and respectful relationships; and create a film that would appeal to youth with the positive message that it is ‘cool’ to respect women and that bystanders must speak up to prevent violence against women and girls.
Since its inception, Be More Than a Bystander has continuously gained momentum and broadened its audience, resulting in hundreds of millions of publicity impressions. It has won several awards and has been highlighted in a global session at the United Nations in New York. This innovative program is directly responsible for a number of spin-off campaigns across Canada that include the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Football Saskatchewan. In August 2015, the groundwork laid by Be More Than a Bystander led to the development of the Canadian Football League’s Policy on Violence Against Women, which applies to all CFL players, coaches, officials, executives, and staff across Canada. Through in-person presentations to BC high school and post-secondary students, Indigenous communities, workplaces, and others, Bystander spokespersons have directly reached hundreds of thousands of people.
At its core, the Be More Than a Bystander model recognizes that the vast majority of men do not commit violence against women. Instead, they care deeply about the women and girls in their lives and in the world. We ask those men to take ownership and play an active role in creating positive change. Many people welcome and support this approach. From the beginning, enthusiasm for this program has continued to grow, leaving no doubt that engaging men and boys as allies to “Break the Silence on Violence Against Women” is an idea whose time has come.