Good Night Out Vancouver partners with Junos to ensure patron safety during awards-show weekend

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      Local anti-harassment group Good Night Out Vancouver is teaming up with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Tegan and Sara Foundation, and the Vancouver Juno Host City Committee to implement a series of consent-centred initiatives that will make Juno weekend (March 23 to 25) safer for attendees.

      Funded in part by WorkSafeBC and the Downtown Vancouver BIA, the partnership will see GNO deploying its street team around sites presenting Juno-related events to prevent and defuse incidences of harassment. In addition, the nonprofit will offer training to venue staff and representatives to ensure they’re informed of effective practices for establishing safe spaces and addressing sexual misconduct—particularly when the targets are women and folks who identify as LGBT.

      “The #MeToo allegations—not just in Vancouver, but all over the world—have really brought to light how women feel unsafe in music scenes,” Stacey Forrester, GNO coordinator, tells the Straight by phone. “Of course, the queer community and trans and nonbinary folks may also feel unsafe in really macho music scenes.”

      The six-person street team, which GNO organized during a successful pilot program last fall, is skilled in nonviolent crisis intervention, conflict resolution, and overdose management. Equipped with First Aid tools, naloxone kits, and other resources—and working closely with security personnel and the Vancouver Police Department—the volunteers will roam the areas outside spots like the Biltmore Cabaret, Venue, and the Rickshaw Theatre, all of which will be playing host to Junofest shows leading up to the annual awards ceremony at Rogers Arena on March 25.

      There will also be GNO presence around the Vancouver Art Gallery, the site for Let’s Hear It Live, a two-day festival that will include outdoor concerts and a beer garden. Posters will be pasted at Juno-related venues to increase patron safety.

      “The messaging is going to be two-fold,” explains Forrester. “It’s really going to call on patrons to look out for one another and intervene if they see if someone looks like they’re being made to feel uncomfortable. And it will also be a reminder that the [venue’s] staff has taken our training and they are equipped to deal with issues quickly and sensitively.”

      The partnership comes on the heels of the #MeToo movement, which has seen hundreds of women in the entertainment industries come forward with experiences of sexual assault and harassment since October. In February, B.C.–based band Hedley was removed from this year’s Juno lineup after sexual-misconduct allegations were levelled at the group online. They later pulled out of consideration for three Juno Awards at 2018’s ceremony.

      Forrester encourages those who will be attending Juno-related events to look out for one another and employ bystander intervention as needed to prevent incidences of harassment. Homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, and religious discrimination should also not be tolerated.

      “If you see anyone that’s not looking like they’re as super stoked as they should be…check in with them,” she says. “It can be [saying something] as simple as, ‘Hey, do you know when the next band is on?’ Just interrupting a moment can really alter that person’s evening and how the night goes for them.”

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.