Evidence of meeting #36 for Status of Women in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was brunswick.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Maureen Adamson  Deputy Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Ontario Women's Directorate, Government of Ontario
Jocelyne Mills  Assistant Deputy Minister, Executive Council Office, Women's Equality Branch, Government of New Brunswick
Tessa Hill  Co-Founder, We Give Consent
Martine Stewart  Director, Violence Prevention and Community Partnerships (Unit), Executive Council Office, Government of New Brunswick
Lisa Priest  Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Women's Directorate, Government of Ontario

4:55 p.m.

Co-Founder, We Give Consent

Tessa Hill

I think it's extremely relevant to talk about the consumption of violent images. It is very prevalent among my peers. It's isn't necessarily a conversation piece with teenagers, but you see it on Instagram and within smaller groups of boys, and girls as well. It's so readily available that even if it's not something that we talk about a lot, it is there. I think that's the scary part of it.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Pam Damoff

I'm sorry to cut you off, but we've gone over the time.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Thank you very much.

4:55 p.m.

Co-Founder, We Give Consent

Tessa Hill

Okay. Thanks.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Pam Damoff

Ms. Malcolmson, you have seven minutes.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you, Chair.

I want to thank all the witnesses for their work.

I want to start my questions with Tessa Hill. I want to welcome you back. I'm sorry your testimony got interrupted last time.

When you gave your presentation, you were talking about the need to change the health and education curriculum and the need to address sexual stigma, rape culture, and consent.

I wonder if you can talk a little bit more about what you'd like to see from the federal government around setting the tone for that, which the provincial and territorial governments can then pass on to school boards and the education system.

4:55 p.m.

Co-Founder, We Give Consent

Tessa Hill

I think the most important thing is having comprehensive sex education. Much of the sex education across Canada, and even in some classrooms now, is still very fear-based and abstinence-based education, whereas I think it should be the opposite. Comprehensive sex education should include terms that I use in my remarks, like “body positive”, “queer positive”, “sex positive”, and it should have a harm reduction approach. A harm reduction approach would not emphasize that you don't do this, but that if you make this choice, then here's what you should be aware of and here are the measures you should take.

In order to truly address those issues, you need sex education that has all of those things and that talk to youth in the way youth want to be talked to. We want to have real conversations about things that we see every day, like violent pornography images that are readily available to us online. We need to then group that with these positive conversations about sex education. Since it's a such a part of our lives, it's not something that can be ignored.

5 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

You're not seeing that now at a leadership level. I think you described that the school that you went to had that approach, but you thought that was sadly unique at this time.

5 p.m.

Co-Founder, We Give Consent

Tessa Hill

I think that it's extremely important and great that Ontario has updated the sex education curriculum. There are still a lot of gaps within smaller school communities, as I mentioned, such as teachers and administrations who unfortunately don't feel the same way about sex education or who don't have the same understanding that sex education, in my opinion, should not be fear-based and abstinence-based. There is still a very large gap that needs to be filled.

5 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

When you talked with us a couple of weeks ago, a concern you had about the Trump campaign was that it had given permission to express hate, and you were seeing that in your school. Can you give us an update on how that's unfolded over the last couple of weeks?

5 p.m.

Co-Founder, We Give Consent

Tessa Hill

Definitely it has died down a bit. It's less immediate. It's based on a need for some people to start arguments and be opposed. I go to an arts school, so my school community is very aware, which is really great, but there are a few people to whom it has given permission in their community to be provocative and controversial. Over the past few weeks, it has died down a little bit and become a little bit better, though I know that it's still there under the surface, which I think is a really big issue.

5 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

I'm glad to hear it's not getting worse, so thank you.

To our Ontario partners, Canada still does not have a national action plan to promote the protection of women against violence, despite the United Nations call that all countries have a national plan in place by 2015. I'm curious whether you'd say that the UN call was a motivation for Ontario to adopt its own provincial plan to end violence against women.

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Ontario Women's Directorate, Government of Ontario

Maureen Adamson

Certainly the UN document has the attention of a lot of provinces and a lot of countries. To be very frank with you, just from my own experience, it's definitely had some play in what Ontario's policies have shaped up to be. There's not a lot of that kind of document out there that's so prevalent, so it's certainly had some play.

I know, Lisa, you wanted to add something to that.

5 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Women's Directorate, Government of Ontario

Lisa Priest

Ontario is updating its domestic violence action plan. We'll be leading a review of existing programs and services. This action plan started in 2014, so we've started on that work, recognizing it's important.

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Ontario Women's Directorate, Government of Ontario

Maureen Adamson

It's not been updated since 2004.

5 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Excellent.

Part 11 of your Ontario plan was to “Establish a permanent roundtable to make Ontario a leader within Canada on issues of violence against women”. How are you doing on that? Is there a permanent national platform for an exchange of ideas amongst provinces?

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, Ontario Women's Directorate, Government of Ontario

Maureen Adamson

In Ontario we have established the permanent round table. In fact, that was the one that I referenced in an earlier question. It's very cross-cutting in terms of representation, with some very front-line service providers, and then nationally Lisa tried to work with the other provinces, obviously, through the FPT process.

5 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Women's Directorate, Government of Ontario

Lisa Priest

Yes. Ontario is co-hosting the FPT conference with the Status of Women, and domestic violence is one of the areas that we're looking at with a pan-Canadian approach.

5 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Okay, thanks.

I think that's almost my time, so I'll thank you for your work, all of you, and our New Brunswick partners as well.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Pam Damoff

Thank you very much.

We're going to Mr. Mendicino for seven minutes.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for their testimony today.

Ms. Hill, my question is for you. I understand that you made a short film for your class entitled “Allegedly”. I'm just wondering how your male classmates and peers responded to the video. Do you think their attitudes towards consent were positively impacted by your video?

5:05 p.m.

Co-Founder, We Give Consent

Tessa Hill

In my immediate school community when I made the documentary, I was in a school of 60 kids. It was a small alternative school, which was a really important community for me to make the project in. When my friend Lia and I finished the film, and throughout the campaign as well, because our entire school community followed our campaign, there were a lot of positive reactions.

I noticed that the topic of consent and rape culture generally became more talked about in my entire community, but also among my male peers. At the time there were a few issues going around with some male peers not totally understanding some boundaries with younger classmates. I saw a little bit of a click with that as we were talking about it on this larger level, where it did become a larger part of the conversation.

At the same time, though, I do know that's not the case everywhere, unfortunately. I think that there were a lot of young people who did hear about the campaign and hear about the documentary who did learn a lot of stuff. This past year the gym teacher at my school who teaches the male separated gym class showed my documentary to his grade 10 boys health class, and I heard through a few of my peers that there was strangely a lot of...not necessarily backlash, but definitely a lot of misinformation about rape culture. There were some boys who thought that the way the system worked when someone was accused of sexual assault was that they were immediately prosecuted and charged, which is definitely not the case. There was a lot of misinformation, such as the idea that rape culture doesn't exist.

I know that my school community where I did the documentary is unfortunately not the same as elsewhere, but I know that there have been a lot of changes with how young people are starting to talk about rape culture.

November 30th, 2016 / 5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

You should be congratulated for putting the video together. What's interesting from your answer is that there seems to have been a distinction between the way boys react in integrated school settings as opposed to just an all-boys gym class, where some of those stereotypes continue to prevail. Would you say that jibes with what your impressions were, based on the reactions to the video?

5:05 p.m.

Co-Founder, We Give Consent

Tessa Hill

I wasn't in the class when the boys watched the video, but it's not great that gym classes are still separated by two binary genders. In order to have comprehensive sex education and health education, everyone needs to be integrated. Definitely that is a factor in that.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

My other question is for Ms. Mills, with the Government of New Brunswick.

You'd mentioned that there was a program just outside of Miramichi with four first nations communities. Could you take a moment to elaborate on some of the culturally appropriate outreach programs that have been successful there?