A P.E.I. group wants men to start putting some action behind their words when it comes to eliminating violence against women.
Man Up P.E.I., a volunteer advocacy group, held the second annual Stop the Violence event at The Guild on Sunday, which was followed by a walk in solidarity with Island women down Richmond Street.
Member Gord McNeily, said the group aims to encourage men to look at how they can help end all violence against women in their community.
“We want to give men the opportunity to say ‘hey, I don’t like what’s happening, I want to change it, I want to be part of the solution’,” said McNeily, noting the event was held one day after the International Day for the Prevention of Violence Against Women. “A lot of men say ‘that’s too bad, but I didn’t do it and I don’t know what I can do to help.’ Well, Man Up P.E.I. wants to say you can join our group and be part of that solution.”
Finding a solution requires all men, said members of the group.
Dana Kenny said when he first heard about Man Up P.E.I. he felt it was “really not my issue” to fight because he is gay.
“And man has my perspective changed,” Kenny told the group of about 60 at The Guild.
Kenny shared a story of being in downtown Charlottetown with a female friend who was visiting P.E.I. last March.
While downtown, Kenny said his friend was both physically and verbally assaulted by two men.
“And it’s not the first time she’s experienced something like that. And that’s unfortunate, very unfortunate,” said Kenny. “That was my wake-up call. (It was like) wow, I need to be part of this dialogue, this conversation. I need to encourage others to step in because if not I’m just perpetuating that cycle of violence.”
This weekend also saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau call on Canadian men to do more in putting an end to gender-based violence.
Kenny, a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, said he had mentioned the P.E.I. group to Trudeau last week.
Kenny also encouraged those at Sunday’s event to do more by speaking up and intervening when they see violence against women.
He also provided a response to some naysayers who feel that no matter the effort, there “is always going to be violence.”
“That’s a terribly pessimistic attitude to have,” said Kenny. “You’re just perpetuating that cycle of violence. Instead why don’t you say, ‘we’re going to stop it and I’m going to be part of it’.”
The event also included the screening of a short film “Who Are You?”, which showed how bystanders can often intervene in safe and effective ways to prevent violence.
The group also works with and is advised by the P.E.I. Council of the Status of Women and The Women’s Network of P.E.I.
Member Duncan McIntosh said 15 men at the event also signed up to take part in a session with the Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention.
“Violence against women, of any kind, is never cool, and if we could just get people to say that… just say that to each other, and that’s a start,” said McIntosh.
Those looking for more info on the group or wishing to join can go to Facebook page “PEI Man Up” or the website peimanup.ca.