CANMORE — The Banff YWCA is uniting the community in a call to stand up against gender-based violence.
The Y will host the Awareness to Action Luncheon on Thursday (Dec. 5) to commemorate victims of the 1989 Montreal Massacre mass shooting at École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989 when 14 women were killed by a lone gunman who died by suicide, and in recognition of Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
The event has traditionally been known as the Rose Campaign under YWCA Canada, but this year the YWCA is bringing the event to Canmore and calling it the Awareness to Action luncheon.
“We really want to focus on what folks in the community can do as individuals to support a shift away from violence,” said Carla Snow, YWCA marketing and communications manager. “[People] are interested in finding out more and that’s really great.”
Snow has been involved with the YWCA for five years, she said, and in that time she has seen a noticeable shift in the community as awareness about gender-based violence has grown.
“We’re seeing quite the increase of support from the community and questions from the community,” Snow said. “Folks really want to know what they can do.”
There can be misconceptions that surround gender-based violence, Snow said, explaining that the great thing about increasing awareness in the community is that it can improve in progressing conversations about the subject while debunking dangerous myths.
“Being able to talk to the community at events like this, in general, we’re bringing awareness to those misconceptions and helping people to see how it really is,” Snow said. “In terms of individual actions, it makes us more likely to speak out when we see things and to look out for our fellow community members.”
During the presentation, a focus will be placed on how awareness can be a catalyst for taking action that leads to change.
The YWCA believes the community is a major component in the response to ending violence, Snow said, adding that it is a goal everyone needs to work towards.
The luncheon is a wonderful experience, she added, because guests are in a room surrounded by people united by the common purpose of ending violence.
“It’s really empowering,” she said. “On an individual level, it’s really great to see the community coming together.”
The event features speaker Lana Bentley, a registered social worker and director of program operations at YW Calgary. Her presentation will be followed by a question and answer period with the audience.
Bentley brings her experience in social work and makes it accessible for audiences, Snow added, explaining that this accessibly helps fuel the conversation surrounding gender-based violence.
“Lana Bentley is a really great speaker,” Snow said. “[Guests] are really going to enjoy hearing from her and they’re going to come away with a better understanding of the issue of gender-based violence and maybe some ideas on how they themselves can take action.”
The Awareness to Action Luncheon takes place on Thursday (Dec. 5) at the Canmore Opera House. Doors open at 11:45 and the presentation begins at noon. Tickets are $10 and include a light lunch.