May 15, 2020

Be More Than A Bystander

Written by Victor Gouchee

What does it mean to be more than a bystander? Speaking up for someone who may not be able to, safely getting involved in a situation where someone may need your help. A bystander on the other hand is, you guessed it, someone who stands by and does nothing to help the situation.

The situation in question is that of gender-based violence, specifically against women and children. The Ending Violence Association of BC partnered with the BC Lions in 2011 to create the Be More Than a Bystander: Break the Silence on Violence Against Women program that helps educate, create awareness and ultimately break the silence on gender-based violence.

Since the program’s inception some ten years ago, BC Lions players trained on the issues of gender-based violence and what it means to speak up, have been visiting high schools every year to educate students on the types of gender-based violence as well as what they can do to help be part of the solution.

One player who has been a prominent figure in giving these presentations since he joined the club three years ago is Jordan Herdman-Reed.

“These football players came to give a presentation on this topic when I was playing at SFU and these were guys I really looked up to. Now it’s my turn to do my part, I felt obligated to give back.”

Herdman-Reed has first-hand experience seeing the benefits this program offers young athletes in the audience, because he was one.

“It has a lasting impression on the kids. A lot of people look up to the players and speaking on such a serious topic the students are more engaged in the presentation.”

This year, however, the Lions were not able to continue with the school program because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ironically enough, now is a time more than ever that the discussion of gender-based violence needs to be had. On episode 28 of the BC Lions 1st and Now Podcast, host Matt Baker caught up with the legendary Jamie Taras to discuss a variety of topics, but most importantly the club’s Be More Than A Bystander program.

The largest takeaway from Taras’ interview has to be why the Be More Than a Bystander program is so important right now, “It’s really more important than ever because unfortunately the incidences of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse increase during crisis and this pandemic is a crisis.

We’re already seeing and hearing in our own communities and our own province that the number of calls to women’s resource centres are on the increase, sometimes as much as 300%.”

Of course, it’s extremely unfortunate that we’re not able to be out in the community to educate and lend a hand when there are more vulnerable women and children than usual.

Jordan Herdman-Reed understands that this is a tough time for everyone. “Whether its depression, increased stress or other mental health issues, it’s necessary to keep talking about it,” said the Lions Linebacker, who hopes the conversation will comfort those at risk, and encourage bystanders, to speak up for what is right.

Finally, Herdman-Reed is very grateful that he is able to use his platform, along with the club’s and EVA BC’s, to speak on such an important topic. Additionally, he wants to thank all of those front-line workers that often don’t get the recognition they deserve, especially now.

“Everyone on the front lines, with programs like all of the victim services, they need to be appreciated too. They often go unnoticed and it’d be great to shed light on them during this traumatic time.”