BC Lions all-star offensive lineman Angus Reid is used to bashing people around on the football field. It’s his job.
On Monday at Williams Lake secondary and Wednesday at Columneetza secondary, however, Reid and B.C. Lions quarterback and 2011 CFL player of the year Travis Lulay shared a distinctly different message than what their occupations might stereotypically reflect of their characters.
“Being football players we’re a good model to say hey, as big, strong men we have a stereotype of who we are and we’re sitting here saying it’s time to put a stop to the problems with violence against women and more directly about having men starting to stand up and say something about it,” Reid told the Tribune Monday, just prior to speaking to students at WLSS about that very same message.
The BC Lions were at local schools this week in Williams Lake speaking as part of the Be More than a Bystander program, as well as the FortisBC Energy Champions initiative.
The Energy Champions presentations, conducted by players Jon Hameister-Ries, Jason Arakgi and Sean McGarva, aimed at elementary students from Mountview elementary and Glendale elementary, emphasized the importance of environmental responsibility.
Lulay and Reid conducted both high school Be More Than a Bystander presentations — an initiative between Ending Violence Association BC (EVA), the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development and Encana Corporation.
Lulay stressed to the students the importance of being “more than a bystander,” and becoming leaders — a role he’s quite familiar with as the Leos’ starting quarterback.
“How many of you guys have a woman in your life who means something to you? Everyone, right?” he asked the students.
“For so long violence against women has been looked at as an issue that women have had to deal with. We’re here to promote leaders and to promote a culture that’s bigger than that.
“This stuff was so eye opening to us, so cool, we all jumped at the opportunity to be a male voice, because there’s not a ton of them in this field promoting these ideas. We need more men to speak up against violence against women.”
Lulay and Reid then went over some startling statistics.
“In B.C. alone there are more than 1,000 physical or sexual assaults against women every single week,” Reid said. “Think about that number. That’s scary. There are 52 weeks in a year — that’s a lot of problems.”
Both athletes encouraged the students to do something about violence — physical and emotional — being committed against girls at their school, and to do the same in their day-to-day lives.
“Leadership takes smart decision making, accountability and courage, and it’s not always easy,” Reid said.
“We’re trying to create a school, a community, a province, a country, a world where we help each other.”
Following the presentation at WLSS the school’s Go-To Team, tasked with being leaders at the school, spent an up-close-and-personal, one-hour session with the Lions further discussing the issue.
Several Grade 12 students told the Tribune both presentations were an eye-opening experience, and added they were thrilled to have the Lions at their school.
“I thought the presentation was really good,” said Jordan Schofield, also a Go-To Team member. “Before I didn’t really know anything about woman abuse, or cat calling, or anything like that. I thought it was wrong before but it’s pretty enlightening.”
Schofield’s peer and Go-To Team member Robyn Ferguson added the statistics presented were startling.
“They were really eye opening,” Ferguson said. “When you think about abuse you think more about physical abuse but then you realize things like cat calling, making small jokes about what girls are wearing, that kind of thing, can hurt. It made us more aware.”
Go-To Team leader and WLSS counsellor Mike Levitt added the presentation couldn’t have come from a better source.
“I think it ties in perfectly with what we’re doing here at the school,” he said.
“We’re an anti-bullying group and for those guys — the most bravado, macho, professional guys to say it’s OK to stand up for women, that’s probably the most brilliant way the message can come across.”