The AJHL is partnering with the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS) to combat gender-based violence and abuse.

All 16 of the league's teams will partake in training sessions under the Leading Change program during the 2022-2023 season.

The program is designed to engage the public and provide tools to prevent physical and sexual violence.

The ACWS has worked with several groups including workplaces, sports teams, and schools via the Leading Change program for over 10 years now.

Regarding the AJHL, Leading Change Call to Action Coordinator Jill Shillabeer says the workshops will cover a broad range of topics.

"We're going to be talking about gender-based violence and domestic violence, really unpacking those and getting people to understand what that means. We're going to be having a big conversation about consent, not just what it is, but how you actually navigate consent in your conversations and in your relationships. When is consent not possible, and also what to do if you hear a no or if you find yourself in a context where a yes isn't possible? We're also going to be talking about healthy masculinity and different ways to approach being a man in the world and challenging some of the stereotypes that put us all into boxes of how we're meant to behave that really aren't healthy for any of us."

A pilot was run last year with the Blackfalds Bulldogs, and its success paved the way for this partnership with the AJHL.

The announcement comes amid controversy surrounding Hockey Canada’s alleged covering up of sexual abuse and misconduct. 

Shillabeer says engaging with a wide variety of groups is key to preventing this kind of abuse.

"Our belief at the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters is that gender-based violence is not a women's issue, it's an everyone issue. We all have a role to play in ending violence against women and girls and ending violence against non-binary and trans people. These are pieces that everyone can participate in, and we know that most men are not violent, most men want to be part of the solution, but they may not have the tools or the knowledge to do that. 

“We're able to come together with these young men who are hockey players and leaders in their community able to model their behaviors of others and take advantage of that leadership opportunity and give them the tools and knowledge so that they can take this good work forward."


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