Project Soundcheck: N.B. festivals training staff on how to prevent sexual assault
Published Monday, June 19, 2017 10:43AM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 20, 2017 11:35AM ADT
As music festival season approaches, some organizers in New Brunswick are ensuring staff and volunteers know what to look for to determine whether a sexual assault is taking place at their event, and how to intervene if it does.
Project Soundcheck was created as a result of research conducted by an Ottawa doctor, who found that large events in the nation’s capital often draw unwanted behaviour.
“It was found that, of people presenting themselves to emergency rooms having been sexually assaulted, one out of every four, the sexual assault occurred at some sort of large event,” says Carly Furlong, a registered social worker in Fredericton.
The majority were young women, a third of which did not know their assaulter.
“Growing up on this side of the general line, I certainly understand rape culture,” says Sarah McAdam, organizer of Freedom Fest in the Field. “I have been in my own experiences where I could have used somebody helping me out, and having more people be trained in this is just better for me, it’s better for you, it’s better for everyone.”
Project Soundcheck is a joint initiative from the Sexual Assault Network in Ottawa and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women. When McAdam heard about Project Soundcheck, she knew she wanted her staff to be trained ahead of the music festival, which is set to take place in Harvey, N.B. in August.
“Every music festival, every event, everything with more than 50 people at it, if you’re having a big house party, consider getting this training,” advises McAdam.
She brought the idea to the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, which is now training staff at the Folly Fest, Future Forest, Freedom Fest and Evolve festivals.
“We try to increase confidence by practising actual intervention skills, so there’s four different skills that we do case scenarios, talk about what you can do in situations,” says Furlong. “The big message is that there’s never a time when you can’t do something.”
McAdam says she was thrilled at how quickly the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre and other music festivals jumped on board with Project Soundcheck.
“I was just blown away that it was just an easy, quick, ‘Yes, absolutely. We want this, we need this, give it to us.’ It shows that the world is turning in that direction,” she says.
The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival has also shown interest in training staff to ensure eventgoers feel safe and enjoy the show.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Brown