Alright folks, if you’re dreaming about pancakes, getting a mildly weird craving for mini doughnuts and itching to do the electric slide, you’re not going crazy; it’s time for the Calgary Stampede! The next 10 days of the greatest outdoor show on earth are both entertaining and exciting for the city and it’s up to each of us to ensure we all have a #SafeStampede.
Part of what makes the Calgary Stampede so famous is the rodeo and the fairgrounds but it’s also the event’s reputation as being a wild city-wide party. There is a perception that Calgary is indeed the ‘wild west’ where anything goes, but that’s simply not true. The Calgary Stampede does not give attendees a free pass on harassment, assault or implied consent. That includes unwanted touching, cat calling, aggressive behaviour and sexual assault.
Having a #SafeStampede means creating an environment where everyone feels welcome to participate and join in on the celebration. It means being respectful of everyone you meet and speaking up and speaking out if you see harassment happening. Creating an environment like this requires a community effort where we make it unacceptable to simple stand by and do nothing if we see someone being harassed or harassing.
We were thrilled to learn that the Calgary Stampede took steps to ensure that bar staff were trained on how to safely intervene when they spotted bad or unwanted behaviour. Often the rest of us don’t know that there are steps we can take to help quash potential harassment without putting our safety at risk. Some strategies to help move us from being passive bystanders to active interveners are as simple as:
- Notice the situation. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Interpret unwanted or inappropriate behaviour as a problem. Do I recognize that someone needs help?
- Feel responsible to act. See yourself as being part of the solution.
- Know what to do. Educate yourself on what to do.
- Intervene safely. Take action but be sure to keep yourself safe.
If you’re ever considering intervening, please keep your safety at top of mind because a simple verbal conflict can quickly move to a physical conflict especially with alcohol or other substances. If you know it’s safe to intervene, some strategies from Stanford’s TitleIX are:
- Tell another person. Being with others is a good idea when a situation looks dangerous.
- Ask a person you are worried about if they are okay. Provide options and a listening ear.
- Distract or redirect individuals in unsafe situations.
- Ask the person if they want to leave. Make sure that they get home safely.
- Call the police (911) or someone else in authority or yell for help.
We need to say something and do something if we see someone who needs help, is asking for help or who is at risk. We need to call out people who joke about rape, or harassment and make it clear that it’s not okay to joke about violence and assault against women and girls. We need to ask questions, intervene as often as possible without risking safety and alert security and police officials who are found all around the grounds and at the various bars. It’s up to all of us to create a #SafeStampede.