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Edmonton bakery partners with sex assault centre for Valentine’s Day cookie campaign

Delicious vegan offerings from Edmonton's Bloom Cookie Co. Jan. 30, 2019. Courtesy: Bloom Cookie Co.

Bloom Cookie Co. is partnering with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE) on a cookie-gram campaign for Valentine’s Day that will raise funds and awareness for the non-profit agency.

SACE provides specialized counselling services and support to all survivors of sexual violence, of all genders, over the age of three, at no cost.

A phone call from a stranger last Wednesday left a worker at Bloom Cookie Co. feeling uneasy.

READ MORE: Edmonton reported sexual assaults second highest in Canada: report

The call came at around the time the store was closing. The voice on the other end started making lewd comments towards a female staff member who was working alone, which left her feeling uncomfortable.

“She texted me right away and I told her to lock up if she felt unsafe whatsoever, to make sure she was safe and that nobody was hanging around,” says Ashley Benson, owner of Bloom Cookie Co. on 124 Street.

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The incident got Benson thinking about how often calls like this come in to other businesses and what steps are being taken to prevent it.

The cookie-gram project was already in the works, but the phone call gave Benson an opportunity to raise awareness for a cause.

Buyers can purchase a box of 14 cookies that will be delivered right to your loved one’s door on Valentine’s Day. Proceeds from each box sold will be donated to SACE.

READ MORE: More Edmonton women in politics, but domestic violence rates still high: survey

“They decided to try and make something kind of yucky into something positive,” says Mary Jane James, the chief executive director at SACE, “and in doing so, spread the word about the harmful effects of sexual harassment, how that impacts people in their daily lives, and obviously how prevalent it is in our city.”

WATCH BELOW (March 7, 2018): Imagine finding the courage to talk about your sexual assault and then being told there’s no help for eight months. As Kendra Slugoski reports, Alberta has a plan to reduce wait lists.

Click to play video: 'Alberta adds funding to support victims of sexual assault' Alberta adds funding to support victims of sexual assault
Alberta adds funding to support victims of sexual assault – Mar 7, 2018

SACE has a team of 21 psychologists on staff who see up to six clients a day each. The not-for-profit also offers group counselling, a public education program, 24-hour support line and a diversity outreach and inclusion program.

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“If we can get the message out there — ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ — that would be really helpful,” James said.

Benson says she really wanted to partner with SACE for this project.

“They are a support network for people who go through this. We thought we’d bring awareness to SACE so people know that it is there for support and what amazing work they do.”

Bloom Cookie Co.’s cookie-gram campaign. Courtesy: Studio Hazel/Bloom Cookie Co.

Benson also stresses the importance of not taking phone calls like this lightly.

“You never know. That was kind of the thing… where you don’t know, so you just kind of have to take every precaution that you can to make sure that you’re safe and that your staff feels safe,” she said.

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READ MORE: Second-worst city in Canada to be a woman is Edmonton: report

Since the incident last week, Benson is happy to see community support from another local business next door, Prairie Noodle House, and the police officers on 124 Street.

“It’s just nice feeling the support from everyone. Also just feeling like you’re not alone because I think that’s really important,” Benson said.

James says that she is honored to be able to partner with Bloom Cookie Co. and is looking forward to eating a lot of their cookies in the near future.

“People often say, ‘What can I do?’ Well, Bloom just demonstrated what you can do.”

WATCH BELOW (June 28, 2018): Sexual violence advocate writes op-ed about Me Too movement following sexual harassment accusation

Click to play video: 'Sexual violence advocate writes op-ed about Me Too movement following sexual harassment accusation' Sexual violence advocate writes op-ed about Me Too movement following sexual harassment accusation
Sexual violence advocate writes op-ed about Me Too movement following sexual harassment accusation – Jun 28, 2018

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