The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) held their annual Respect Day to help change the narrative around sexual assault.
The event, held at the Red Deer City Hall Park on May 25th, encourages everyone to respect one another because respect can lead to people doing less harm to each other — which can lead to the elimination of violence in Central Alberta.
“We are here, the Sexual Assault Support Centre, inviting the community to make a statement about respect,” Executive Director Patricia Arango said. “It is very difficult for us as a society to talk about sexual assault, so we are trying to change the message in a positive way.
“We are inviting everybody to make a statement about changing lifestyles towards respecting yourself and respecting everybody.”
The event featured a barbecue and Latin-flavoured music by the group Grupo Kongo. Arango said respecting diversity is a key aspect of promoting overall respect.
“We are all human beings and we are all different,” she said. “I have an accent and a different cultural background but we can still be friends. It does not make a difference, we need to all show respect.
“It is not about tolerance or acceptance — it is about respect.”
Respect is part of an overall proactive campaign called #irespect, which has the goal of encouraging, “Everyone to conduct their lives and treat one another with respect,” a press release stated.
#irespect also is about dispelling the negative connotations around the term ‘rape culture’.
Arango said rape is not part of any culture and treating people with respect is a more positive way of ridding sexual assault from society.
“This is not a part of the culture — respect is part of our culture,” she said. “We are trying to change the message around respect. It is about changing lifestyles.”
The CASASC is available 24/7 for victims of sexual assault and provides a one-of-a-kind in-Canada text/web chat service.
“They can also come and access our website, they can call us, they can come to our building — there are many ways and we are always available 24/7 for everybody,” Arango said.
She added, “We would like to do this every year and this year we wanted to do it bigger. I want people to know that we are here and we want the victims of crime know that they have rights. They can access our service.”