The White Ribbon Campaign and SAITSA’s Stand Up Against Violence Expo is so much more than wearing a white ribbon and attending an on-campus event.
Students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to show their support Dec. 6, by wearing a white ribbon to honour the 14 women murdered in the Ecole Polytechnique massacre that happened in 1989 in Montreal.
The SAITSA Stands Up Against Violence expo was held Dec. 6 in the Irene Lewis Atrium, the 28th anniversary of the massacre.
“It was a movement started by a group of men in Ontario in 1991 as a response to the horrible events in 1989,” explained Shona White, assistant manager of marketing and communications at SAITSA.
“The massacre in Montreal was a direct attack on feminists and women in general.
“The White Ribbon Campaign was started by pro-feminist men as a way for men to pledge to stand against violence against women and girls,” White said.
“It is to promote healthy relationships and gender equality.”
Through a letter in the student newspaper The Weal, SAITSA expressed condolences on behalf of 6,000 SAIT students for those killed at Ecole Polytechnique.
In 1990, SAITSA initiated a joint project with Campus Development to honour the 14 women who were killed, and a plaque dedicated to the victims was placed on the west side of Heritage Hall.
On the first anniversary of the massacre, SAITSA held its first white ribbon ceremony to honour the victims.
Twenty-eight years later, SAITSA continues to honour the victims and to educate students every year on the resources available to them on and off campus.
The event started out as the White Ribbon Ceremony, but a few years ago, SAITSA wanted to elevate that by bringing awareness to other types of campaigns around the issue of violence, such as the REDress Project, the Moose Hide Campaign, and the I Believe You campaign.
So the student association decided to add the event SAITSA Stands Up Against Violence to coincide with the White Ribbon Campaign.
The objective of the event is similar to the Mental Health Awareness Expo held in October. However, Stands Up focuses more specifically on the different types of violence.
“We want students to become aware of the resources available to them both on and off campus if they ever need to access them,” said White.
SAIT Student Development and Counselling, Chinook Lodge, the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services, and the Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse were all on hand for the event.
A SAITSA banner was also on display during the event, for students to take a picture of, and to pledge to never condone violence against anyone.
“You never know when you may need this information,” saoid White, prior to the event.
“Hopefully never, but there will be so many helpful resources in one place, which can basically act as a tool belt for anyone in that situation that needs to find help.”