New program works to end violence against women in Saskatoon
A new project in Saskatoon will look to engage men and boys in ending violence against women.
The "Top Left" program is a 24-month project from the Students Commission of Canada that will look to youth in Saskatoon, Toronto, and Victoria to come up with solutions for the problem of violence against women.
"They will be attending a regional one day event in each city... They will spend time with us and going over, studying the issue, looking at statistics, looking at their own experiences, looking at the experience that they've seen in their communities, and using that opportunity as a kickoff," said Sharif Mahdy, the project coordinator for the Students Commission of Canada.
Weekly meetings will follow and Mahdy explained that the goal is to get around 25 Saskatoon youth involved. They will then attend a national event where they will share ideas with youth from the other cities involved in the project.
The second year of the project will take the ideas from the national event and regional workshops to create 15 community action projects including workshops, public service announcements, and social media campaigns.
"Young people are the future. You want to change something you have to involve them. You tell them what to do and it doesn't go well," Mahdy said.
"When young people from those communities are given an opportunity to have a say in decision making they start to change."
Mike Scott is one of the Saskatoon facilitators. He got involved because he has seen the violence first hand.
"I am from this community, I was born and raised here in Saskatoon. I know a lot of women that face these issues daily. It's hard because I have a lot of friends that are girls and sisters and relatives that go through this struggle everyday," Scott said.
"What I want to do is just make the change. I am calling all men to come out here and support... if we are part of the problem we can be part of the solution."
He said that it's important to involve young men because the cycle of violence starts at a young age.
"I think its a learned behaviour I think that they are taught this from a young age. It could happen from schools, friends, their parents a lot of people live with alcohol and drug addiction in this community. We need to break that cycle and start a change," he said.
The Government of Canada supplied $299,175 to the project.
"This is exceptionally important. I think this is a top priority for all Canadians its a top priority for our government eliminating violence against women and girls," said Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women Dr. Kellie Leitch.
The kickoff of the Saskatoon program was held at the Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op Thursday morning.
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