Prairie Post (West Edition)
Lethbridge and Med. Hat colleges helping youth be the VOICE against gender-based violence
Alberta’s government is committed to preventing gender-based violence by empowering youth to advocate for change.
The Valuable Opportunities to Inspire Change through Empowerment (VOICE) program is helping to chip away at the root causes of genderbased violence, one mentor at a time.
Through the program, professional athletes connect with young Albertans through high schools and community groups to face gender-based violence head on.
They use their platform to inspire youth to build relationships, cultures and environments that empower communities to address stigmas, challenge behaviour norms and inspire change.
Funding to help VOICE reach more students
Ensuring youth feel safe, supported and respected in communities across this province is a priority. This is why Alberta’s government is providing an additional $500,000 to the VOICE program, bringing total government funding to almost $900,000. The increased funding means more mentors can be trained so the program can reach more schools, communities and campus organizations.
This will include expanding the scope of the program to fraternities and sororities, and deliver programming to two schools (St. Albert Catholic High School in St. Albert and Bert Church High School in Airdrie), three Indigenous communities (Fort McKay, Maskwacis and Paul First Nation) and five additional post-secondary institutions (Olds College, Mount Royal University, University of Lethbridge, MacEwan University and Medicine Hat College).
“When young adults are inspired to get involved in their communities and foster healthy relationships, they build a better future for themselves, their friends and future generations. Every Albertan deserves to feel safe in our province, and programs like this provide important tools for our youth to navigate difficult situations and inspire change.”
Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, Associate Minister of Status of Women
“Any act of violence is already one too many. Unfortunately, as a former police officer, I came to realize that recurring violence is a tragic reality for many.
I am thankful to see initiatives such as VOICE take steps toward ending gender-based violence in our province. The mentors’ rigorous training and understanding of generational norms make them an excellent resource for young Albertans to learn about healthy behaviours and practices.”
Brad Rutherford, Minister and chief government whip
“Thank you to the Government of Alberta and the Ministry of Culture and Status of Women for their continued support and investment in VOICE. This announcement is one more step towards ensuring all Albertans have the access and opportunity to be engaged in our programming. Education and mentorship is a major source of connection for youth, and we look forward to working alongside our partners to end gender-based violence across our province.”
Colleen Pirie, director and founder, VOICE
• VOICE began as an annual training session for athletes and staff of the Edmonton Elks and the Calgary Stampeders as part of the Canadian Football League’s commitment to address and prevent gender-based violence in its organizations.
• Since its inception, VOICE has gained attention from athletic organizations across the province, particularly over social media. Alberta-born players who play for teams in other provinces as far as Ontario have joined the movement, giving the program a national reach.
• As of September 2021, the VOICE program has trained more than 34 ambassadors, connected with more than 21 schools and engaged with almost 3,000 students across the province.
• The program is expected to reach more than 11,000 Alberta youth by December, including K-12 schools in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Athabasca, Bonnyville, Brooks and several First Nations and Métis communities.