A former B.C. Lions player will come to town to try to tackle the issue of violence against women.
J.R. LaRose will give a talk in Nanaimo next week as part of the Be More than a Bystander campaign, a partnership between the Canadian Football League club and the Ending Violence Association of B.C.
“When leaders in any community speak up and stand up, it makes a huge difference to those that are watching that,” said Anne Taylor, executive director of Haven Society, one of the organizers of the event.
She said Be More than a Bystander is a public awareness campaign that has been primarily focused on addressing students at B.C. schools.
“They go in and talk to kids about violence against women and how to promote respectful relationships, and just the overall impact of bystanding and being able to speak up around violence against women,” Taylor said.
Now the campaign is being expanded outside of a school gym, to Vancouver Island University campus.
LaRose, from Saskatchewan’s One Arrow First Nation, was a Grey Cup champion with the Lions and has led hundreds of public-speaking engagements in recent years.
“He’ll be speaking primarily about his own life experience with challenges and with domestic violence,” Taylor said.
She hopes the presentation won’t just be a one-off event, and will lead to further conversation and be part of a broader community initiative.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure what it’s going to look like going forward,” said Taylor. “Some of that’s going to depend on the interest that’s expressed.”
The presentation will be held Feb. 1, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre. Admission is free, but those who pre-register via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org will be entered into a draw for a signed B.C. Lions jersey.