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Campaign Flipping the Conversation on Sexual Assault

The Kenora Sexual Assault Centre is taking a new approach to awareness. Instead of teaching women to constantly watch their drinks or dress conservatively, the centre is saying “Don’t Be That Guy.”

The Don’t Be That Guy campaign lets men know it’s not okay to take advantage of a woman who’s under the influence. It was started by Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton a few years ago, and Kenora Sexual Assault Centre director Mercedes Alarcon said it’s the modern message she wants men in Kenora to get on board with. Alarcon said asking what women can do to protect themselves from assault only puts blame on a victim, so this new campaign shifts responsibility to potential attackers.

“Women have to always be watching their back, always looking at what they’re drinking or what they’re wearing,” she said. “We know we still have to teach some precautions, but we’re working with other community partners to create responsibility and awareness in young men. That’s an age where they think they can do anything and, to some degree, be disrespectful toward women. We need to send the message that it’s not okay for men to take advantage of women who can’t give consent.”

Crisis line coordinator Evelyn Larsen said this campaign is important because it helps defy stereotypes. “The most common piece of clothing collected for evidence is blue jeans,” said Larsen, “so it’s not necessarily the woman out wearing the skimpy dress.”

Campaign posters started to show up in local bars last month with messages like “Just because you’re helping her home doesn’t mean you get to help yourself.”

Alarcon said the Kenora Sexual Assault Centre mainly supports women, but hopes to create a safe space where men can be allies and can talk about their vulnerabilities. With this new campaign, Alarcon said being an ally could mean speaking up at summer parties and festivals.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a specific increase of assaults during summer, but perhaps the message is to be an ethical bystander,” she said. “Intervene and take a risk when you see someone being taken advantage of. The risk may be jeopardizing a friendship that might not be worth it because if your friend is a potential rapist, well, do you want to be associated with him?”

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Young Philanthropists Give Money To Eight Charities

By Sarah Petz

Local high school students who are dedicated to giving back to their community were in the spotlight Wednesday at the Youth in Philanthropy program granting celebration.

The program, spearheaded by the Kenora and Lake of the Woods Regional Community Foundation, is aimed at connecting youth with local charitable organizations and teaching them the value of philanthropy. Eight charities were chosen from students at Beaver Brae and St. Thomas Aquinas to receive donations of $700 each. The grants were made possible through financial support from Copperfin Credit Union and the Kenora Rotary Club.

It’s a Dog’s Life, Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, The Cat Shelter, and the Women’s Shelter Saakaate House were chosen to receive grants by students at Beaver Brae. The Alzheimer Society of Kenora and Rainy River Districts, the Kenora Fellowship Centre, Kenora Sexual Assault Centre, and Lake of the Woods Historical Society were chosen by St. Thomas Aquinas students to receive grants.

The grants received by the eight local organizations will help cover a variety of their costs.

For example, the money donated to the Women’s Shelter Saakaate House will go towards helping women replace the items they left behind when they were fleeing their homes to escape abusive situations, such as their IDs, jackets and clothes for their children.

Money donated to the Kenora Fellowship Centre will help provide those who are homeless in the area with a “place of safety and shelter,” said Rev. Henry Hildebrandt.
Mayor Dave Canfield said he thought the program was “fantastic” in teaching youth about the importance of leadership and philanthropy in their community.

“It’s usually something that starts in older generations when people can afford to start giving more money, but youth getting involved in it sends a fantastic message,” Canfield said. “It’s a mentoring program for them as they get older, and also some peer pressure for their fellow students that this is the right thing to do.”

Canfield pointed out that many local non-profit organization rely on donations to continue operating.

“[ … ] The municipal government, the provincial government, the federal government, we can’t fund everything. It’s impossible, you just can’t afford to,” Canfield explained. “That’s why we […] have people who raise money [ … ] to help a lot of these non-profit organizations survive and do really good work.”

Lora Gramenz, a student in the tenth grade at Beaver Bray High School, said she decided to get involved in the YIP program to get to know more about the community and the work that people are doing to benefit it. She said that overall, it was very positive experience.

“There are so many people who give their time without ever asking anything in return to help people in the community,” she said.

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