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Edmonton Wildcats speak out against gender-based violence

Edmonton police received 7,849 calls for domestic abuse in 2014, according to the police service.
Edmonton police received 7,849 calls for domestic abuse in 2014, according to the police service. File/ Global News

One of Edmonton’s football clubs is standing up to gender-based violence.

The Edmonton Wildcats have partnered with the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters for presentations to promote gender equality, bring attention to violence against women, and dispel stereotypes.

“So many different walks of life and professions experience toxic masculinity and violence against women,” says Jan Reimer, executive director of the council and a former Edmonton Mayor. “It’s wonderful to see young men step up as leaders to end violence against women.”

“When you have a professional athlete visit a high school, you’ve got people’s attention.”

The pro-athletes are speaking at schools across the province, and according to Reimer, the relationship between the football club and the Council has been mutually beneficial.

“To raise the awareness is really important. Also, some of the players we’ve trained in this program have said that its life-changing, that it really does transform the way they look at the world after they’ve had their training with us,” she said. “So I think it’s just a powerful program.”

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The presentations aren’t just specifically about violence against women and domestic violence — they also address healthy relationships and how popular culture affects gender experiences.

“People get labelled, and have to live up to those labels,” explains Reimer.

“If you start looking at all the stereotyping that goes on, what people are seeing in video games, music, movies, in the culture, there’s a lot of harmful messages that are out there.”

The Wildcats teamed up with the Council after a call for community leaders and prominent figures to speak out about violence against women.