A local organization committed to eradicating sexual exploitation is the latest delegation to receive support from Saanich council.
On Monday, council heard from Joel Conway, executive producer and social justice advocate with the Fortress Foundation. The group challenges “hypersexualized cultural norms in diverse atmospheres.” Conway presented an action plan to implement preventative measures for all forms of gender-based violence, with a specific focus on sexual assault, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
“These issues affect us all, and we believe they particularly affect our youth,” said Conway. “What we are looking to draw more attention to is how this impacts young people.
“We know how serious it can get from some of the more high-profile cases… like Amanda Todd, or one that’s even closer to home, Kimberly Proctor. These cases are very serious, and they affect our young people in a serious way.”
In his presentation, Conway showed recent local headlines about such incidents as sexual assaults, the capturing of sex offenders and child pornography convictions.
He said the group wants to “empower and equip a generation of young people, specifically male youth, with a perspective of becoming men of honour, respect and integrity,” adding that men who adopt such a lifestyle will help prevent sexual misconduct.
Conway also commended council for the work they’ve already done to address issues of sexual exploitation, referencing the recent UBCM resolutions on human trafficking and rape culture.
“What you guys are doing is incredible, but what I would like to recommend is that we do more,” he said, requesting a letter of support from council in a collaborative effort to end exploitation.
Coun. Fred Haynes, who worked last June to have Saanich endorse the UBCM resolution on human trafficking, thanked Conway and the Fortress Foundation for the work they do to combat sexual offences.
“This is a Saanich-based organization, and I think it’s tremendous that he’s come forward with this initiative,” said Haynes. “Only good work can come out of this.”
Council unanimously voted in favour of a recommendation for a letter of support.