2016 #SafeStampede kicks off with media event

The 2016 Calgary Stampede is fast approaching and there seems to be a sense in the air that our city is ready to let down its hair. For over 100 years, the Stampede has been Calgary’s world-renowned celebration of the people, history and values that make our city great.  Along with many local advocates and supporters, including the Calgary Stampede and the Minister of Status of Women, the Calgary Sexual Health Centre (CSHC) hosted a press conference today to launch the 2016 #SafeStampede campaign to celebrate a safe and respectful Stampede for everyone.

IMG_5424The hashtag #SafeStampede was created last year by a concerned group of local Calgarians to encourage respectful behaviour and to spark conversations about sexual harassment.

“The Calgary Stampede is a community event that’s meant to represent the very best of Western hospitality and culture. Unfortunately, some Calgarians use those 10 days in July as an excuse to behave badly and ignore rules of consent and basic respect,” said Elizabeth Booth, one of the local community advocates behind the #SafeStampede initiative.

“Our goal in creating #SafeStampede was to raise awareness of how increased incidents of sexual harassment during Stampede week not only affects those directly impacted, but makes large segments of Calgarians feel like they can’t safely participate in an event that should be welcoming of everyone.”

The CSHC soon joined forces by creating the supporting campaign website at www.SafeStampede.ca.

“We were so impressed with the passionate group who started the hashtag last year and we were more than happy to lend our support,” said Pam Krause, CEO of the CSHC. “We see #SafeStampede as a forum to raise conversations about consent and sexual harassment. It is an important opportunity to bring attention and education around negative behaviours during Stampede, and also to celebrate positive and respectful behavior.”

The campaign quickly caught attention and support from many Calgarians, including the Stampede CEO and Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who supported the #SafeStampede campaign on social media.

IMG_5409“The Calgary Stampede is about celebrating our city’s Western hospitality,” said Kurt Kadatz, Director of Community Engagement and Communications with the Calgary Stampede, at the #SafeStampede media launch today. “We believe that putting on a cowboy hat is an opportunity to elevate our behaviour and treat each other and our visitors with respect. We are proud to support #SafeStampede.”

IMG_5414Today’s media event was also attended by the Minister of Status of Women, the Honourable Stephanie McLean. “Positive messages and citizen-led initiatives like #SafeStampede are critical to helping end sexual harassment and violence against women. I applaud this grassroots initiative that encourages a fun and safe Stampede for everyone.”

But what does the #SafeStampede campaign hope to acheive?

“The Stampede is a great celebration for our city with so much to enjoy. We want everyone to feel welcome to participate safely, from the Stampede grounds, BBQs, headliner concerts and lively dance halls,” Krause explained.

“The Stampede is not a free pass to harass, assault or ignore consent. Please join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #SafeStampede. Please check your own behaviour and speak up if you see harassment. And if you experience sexual assault or harassment, please report it to the police and please reach out to the many resources in our city that are here to listen and help. We believe you.”

Thanks for visiting this website. Please take some time to explore the information and resources on consent and sexual harassment.