Pink Shirt Day – 2024

Why is bullying a topic we are still talking about?

By Carlia Schwab

Why is bullying a topic we are still talking about?

On February 22 many communities across Alberta will celebrate Pink Shirt Day, a day to create awareness and show your support for anti-bullying.

Here at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) we like to talk about bullying prevention all month long. We seek to help change the narrative surrounding bullying – where bullying is about what you do (the behaviour), not about who you are, a bully. Bullying behaviour is intentional, meaning it often involves one person repeatedly misusing their power/privilege to negatively impact the actions and feelings of another person or influence peers to join in.

Changing the narrative involves understanding bullying behaviour and talking about respectful relationships and positive use of power. This is something you can do at any age.



Bullying behaviour for children can be seen in a breakdown of respectful interactions with siblings and peers. Examples include pushing and shoving, throwing toys at others, not allowing others to join in a game or activity, hurting others due to strong emotional reactions (ex. hurting others who won’t share), and prioritizing their wants no matter the impact on others (ex. laughing at others for attention or pushing someone out of line because they want to be first).

Children are at an ideal age for adults to reinforce healthy relationship skills. We can teach children about the impacts of our words and actions and how to understand emotions. Use teachable moments to empower children to make more respectful decisions when interacting with others. Adults can role model healthy behaviours, show how to use respectful language to communicate with others, and reinforce strategies for calming down and re-directing our emotions so we don’t make choices to harm others.


Bullying behaviour for youth can be seen in a school or team context, by peers, friends or teammates. It is a misuse of power directed at others for personal or social gain and can be verbal or physical, involve our peers and emotions (social), and can occur using technology (cyber). Exclusion, fights, degrading comments, gossiping and rumor spreading, are all common examples of bullying behaviour that youth experience.

We can have an impact on youth bullying behaviour by reinforcing peer-to-peer relationship skills. Empowering youth to develop and use positive life skills like assertive communication, conflict resolution, empathy, understanding diversity, and challenging harmful labels and stereotypes.

We can keep digital literacy and bystander intervention top of mind when supporting youth. Encourage youth to take their digital realities seriously, understand both the positive and negative aspects of living within a technology focused world and be able to problem solve helpful solutions when technology is used to harm others. Encourage respectful bystander interventions, practice helping others, ensure youth understand the impacts of harmful behaviours and brainstorm intervention solutions and responses.


Bullying behaviour for adults often occurs within family groups or in the workplace. It can consist of gossiping and rumor spreading, exclusion and targeted cruel and hurtful comments.

We can challenge adult bullying behaviour by practicing conflict resolution or assertive statements that can be used to interrupt the harmful behaviours we encounter or are a part of. We can be aware of workplace policies and processes, connect in with Human Resources about reporting and resolution steps. From a prevention lens, we can build rapport with others, get to know the similarities and difference we have with others, intervene when we see harmful behaviours, find ways to treat everyone with respect and don’t participate in gossip.


We can see bullying is a relationship problem that requires relationship solutions at all stages. When we don’t encourage relationship solutions as a prevention tool or a response measure, our ability to build resiliency and respond to the impacts of bullying behaviour are less developed.

The impacts of bullying behaviour are wide and don’t just hurt in the moment, it can hurt for a very long time. Impacts can be felt by everyone involved – the person targeted, the person doing the bullying behaviour, the people who witnesses it, family, friends, our school, workplace and community.


Short-term impacts of bullying behaviour can include:

Feeling anxious, feeling depressed, low self-esteem, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, poor body image, headaches, body pains, missing school/work, isolation, loneliness, few social relationships, withdrawal from family/friends, lying.

Long-term impacts of bullying behaviour can include:

Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, mental health issues/poor mental health, poor physical health, increased used of drugs and/or alcohol, harmful coping mechanisms, self-harm, lack of social relationships, dropping out of school, lower level of employment.


Having empathy and understanding how others feel and how they are impacted by bullying behaviour can motivate us to step in and help others. We all have the power to help or hurt others.

Bullying behaviour doesn’t go away and hasn’t become less prevalent just because we have exhausted the conversation. Bullying behaviour requires real and healthy relationship solutions and until we can make relationship solutions and education consistent, we will always need a platform to talk about the issue. Be part of a relationship solution, not a contributor to a bullying reality.

If you or someone you know would like support in working through a bullying situation and its’ impacts, please reach out to trusted adults, human resources, school counsellors, online resources, or help lines.

Don’t excuse the behaviour as normal or “something everyone goes though.” Instead validate the feelings and impacts caused by harmful bullying experiences and seek to change the narrative. It doesn’t just have to be physically harmful, violent or a mental health issue to warrant support.

We are all worthy and deserving of having relationships, living, and interacting in spaces free from bullying behaviour.

Carlia Schwab is the Education and Community Awareness Manager at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

Education Learning Series 2023

NEW – Foundations of Consent and Healthy Relationships (45 min)
Join us for a 45min workshop – participant conversations and interactions are encouraged – as we explore the foundation of consent for sexual activity through discussions on healthy relationships. A basic overview helping participants connect the dots between how we act in healthy friendships and how we use day-to-day permission to healthy intimate partner relationships and consent for sexual activity.

Consent laws and ages of consent as they apply to Alberta, Canada will be discussed.

FREE, Register here


March 1, 11:00 – 11:45am MST

March 1, 3:00 – 3:45pm MST


What happens on a 24/7 Sexual Violence Helpline? (45 min)

Join us for an informal session about operating and volunteering on a 24/7 Sexual Violence Helpline.

Supported by volunteers with the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, and available by phone, text and webchat to anyone in Alberta, Canada. The help line provides support to anyone impacted by Sexual Violence (direct or indirect) and is a resourcing and support service.

Use this opportunity to learn about the helpline and how you can utilize it in your community/workplace. Hear what it takes to volunteer on a help line. Help us share this free resource out to our Alberta community. We are here for you, we care!

FREE, Register here


Tues, March 14 – 6:00 – 6:45pm MST

Tues, April 18 – 6:00 – 6:45pm MST


“Ask an Expert” Parenting + Sexualized Behaviour conversations with our clinical expert (60 min)

Join us for an informal session with our Child Therapist. Learn information related to parenting and supporting children and youth who display concerning sexualized behaviours.

OR maybe you want to join us to discuss a situation or behaviour your child is engaging in and get some advice on what is developmentally appropriate, how to support and respond etc.

Use this opportunity to connect with our counsellor for those unique and one-off questions that you may have but don’t want to go through our client wait list process to speak with a counsellor.

FREE, Register here


Thurs, March 30 – 4:00 – 5:00pm MST

Thurs, April 27 – 4:00 – 5:00pm MST


Supporting Disclosures (45 min)
This session will help to enhance our skills and knowledge around supporting disclosures of sexual violence. An overview of the fundamentals of responding to and supporting disclosure of sexual assault and abuse from children, youth and adults. Learn some key messages and legal obligations when it comes to reporting child abuse.

FREE, Register here


Fri, Mar 24 – 12:00 – 12:45pm MST

Wed, Apr 26 – 3:00 – 3:45pm MST


Services & Programs at CASASC (30 min)
Join us for a short 30min session overviewing the programs and services available at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

You’ll never know you need us, until you do!

FREE, Register here


Fri, Mar 10 – 11:30-12:00pm MST

Thurs, Apr 6 – 9:30-10:00am MST


Introduction to Sexual Violence (60 min)
Do you want to enhance your knowledge around sexual violence education? Join us as we present an Introduction to Sexual Violence. This presentation is a public awareness and education presentation that introduces, and highlights, definitions and concepts related to sexual violence. We will discuss dispelling myths and stereotypes, talk about victim blaming, and the realities of sexual violence.

FREE, Register here


Mon, Mar 6, 3:00-4:00pm MST

Fri, Apr 21, 9:00-10:00am MST

NEW – Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment Training

Engagement Strategies Toward Ending Workplace Sexual Harassment


Thursday, February 23 from 9:00am – 12:00pm
Friday, April 14 from 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Registration access by emailing


This is not your average anti-harassment training – An innovative online workshop to help us understand, respond to, and prevent sexual harassment

This three-hour, interactive, online learning opportunity is not your average workplace sexual harassment training. Facilitated by the Education team at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC).

Research informed and using best practices for adult online learning, this workshop will explore what sexual harassment is (and isn’t), what it costs us, interpersonally and collectively, and, how to help stop sexual harassment as someone who:
• Witnesses someone sexually harassing others,
• Is told about someone else’s sexual harassment,
• Is told they have done something that might amount to sexual harassment, and,
• Is in a position of leadership and responsible for a safe and healthy workplace


$50/participant for #momentsmatter campaign partners – if this is you let us know at and we’ll send you another ticket access link (for information on becoming a #momentsmatter campaign partner click here )

Groups of ten or more people receive a 20% discount. If you would like to register as a group, please email us directly at or call 403-309-1680

• This training is conducted via Zoom and includes polls and chat discussion participation
• Prior to attending please ensure that you have downloaded the most current version of zoom
• You will need a laptop or desktop with speakers or headphones. A smartphone will NOT allow you to participate fully.
• We encourage each participant to log on from their own computer (as opposed to multiple participants sharing one computer) to ensure the best experience and participation in the training discussion and polls.
• It is important to use a secure internet connection rather than public/free Wi-Fi.

A certificate of Completion will only be issued to participants who attend the workshop in full. Attendance is logged through Zoom as proof of complete attendance. Participants need to sign in on time, identify their registered name, attend the entire training, and complete the course evaluation. Certificates will be issued via email following the training session.

Consent – A short, yet impactful word

By Kailee Burkinshaw

Consent – A short, yet impactful word

What is one of the first things you think of when you hear the word “consent?”

Is it the term “no means no?” What about consent or permission forms from when you were in school? Or when it involves social movements such as the #MeToo hashtag? Consent can be all of these things and more.

Consent is a term that has always been around, but it may not have been as widely talked about as it appears to be now in our news, media, classrooms or virtual worlds. This is why it is important to understand consent and what it involves. Knowing more about consent creates a more informed, respectful and safe world, for reasons this blog post will discuss.

When someone is talking about consent, it begins as an agreement between two people or groups that they want to do something together. Everyone can say “yes” in the agreement, especially after they know what they are agreeing to do. Someone can say “no” in the agreement too.

Framing consent this way can put into perspective how we have all been practicing consent our entire lives.

Have you ever asked a friend to hang out with you? Asked a colleague if you can eat lunch with them? Asked someone out on a coffee date? Indicated to someone you liked that you wanted to hold their hand or kiss them?

If you have said “yes” to any of these questions, then you have been practicing consent.

Continuing to seek someone’s consent and have other people respect your choices when it comes to consent, is the cornerstone of creating healthy, respectful relationships in our lives.

The CASASC education team has regular conversations in our Central Alberta community about consent and healthy relationships. To learn more about these conversations and opportunities, you can reach out to the team at

What is involved with consent?

Consent can start with a simple “yes” or “no” question. Consent can involve letting someone know all of their options when it comes to settings in the medical field, higher education or the workplace.

We have consent in our friendships, within our families and with our dating partners. From high fives, to hugs, and all the way up to and including all forms of sexual activity, we need to practice and be receptive to consent.

But how do we get consent? How do we know we are receiving the right signals for consent? And do we have to be crystal clear every time we ask for consent?

When asking for consent, there needs to be the following considerations:

  1. How well do you know this person? Is it your first time meeting them, or have you known them a long time? What sort of relationship do you have with them? Do you know what sort of activities they are comfortable with?
  2. How does the other person express a “yes” or “no” with their words or actions? Can you yourself recognize them?
  3. Does the person you are asking know all of what they are agreeing to?
  4. Is the person you are asking consent from in an alert, sober, conscious and sane state of mind to understand what you are asking of them?

When we reflect on our relationships with other people, and the sort of agreements we have with them because of our relationship to them, we can better understand how asking for and receiving consent will work with them.

Consent- Easy as FRIES and OYMY

Consent needs to be enthusiastic, specific and informed. It also needs to be reversible—someone can say “yes” but can say “no” later if they change their mind—and freely given. We do not force someone to say “yes.” Rearranging these words can give us the term FRIES, an easy way to remember the parts of consent.

Another way to remember consent is with the term “Only Yes Means Yes.” CASASC has adapted this term into a series of posters under the “Only Yes Means Yes (OYMY)” campaign. More information on the campaign can be found here: If you are interested in posters for your business or organization, you can reach out to CASASC’s EDU Team at

Consent is an everyday practise and can be a way to honor and show respect and safety in our relationships and community.

Kailee Burkinshaw is a prevention educator with the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2022

The CASASC office will be closed Friday, September 30 for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

CASASC staff, led by the Kinship Intervention Program (KIP), will be participating in reflection, awareness and educational initiatives throughout the day. We seek to honour First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors and their families, acknowledging the ongoing impacts of Residential Schools.

September 30 is also Orange Shirt Day – a national movement in Canada.

From the University of Victoria: “In this annual event, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people come together in the spirit of hope and reconciliation to honour former residential school students, their families and communities. We consider the impacts of the policies and actions of the Government of Canada and the churches that operated the schools.

Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake, BC in 2013 at the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event at which survivor Phyllis Webstad told the story of her shiny new orange shirt taken away from her on her first day of school at the Mission.

Orange Shirt Day occurs in early Fall because this is the time of year when children were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools. The day inspires Canadians to take part in anti-racism and anti-bullying initiatives at school and work.

The residential school era began in the early 1870’s, with the last school closing in 1996. More than 150,000 Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children attended these schools. There are an estimated 80,000 survivors living today.”

CASASC is committed to reconciliation. On Friday we will wear our orange iRespect t-shirts as a visual symbol of our awareness of the need for ongoing reconciliation and accountability.

We encourage you to seek further information about the experiences of Indigenous people, especially in regards to residential schooling.

We are here to support our community during this time. If you need support, we have our 24/7 Sexual Violence Help Line by phone at 1 866 956 1099 or by webchat at

You can also reach the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line by phone 1-866-925-4419

Connecting with community prevents violence

By Kailee Mears

The central Alberta region has many amenities and attractions that draw people to settle in our communities. People from all walks of life choose to settle in our unique towns and neighbourhoods which offer a wide range of services, work, play and opportunities to connect.

Connecting with other people has benefits for our sense of belonging, self esteem, physical and mental health and even violence prevention.

When we feel we know our neighbours, we develop a sense of trust and friendship with them that allows us to better look after each other and our neighbourhoods.

When we connect with our close friends and family, we can better sense their appreciation and companionship, which increases our self-esteem and makes us feel better overall.

When we connect with others through sports, book clubs, walking groups, or working together to complete a neighbourhood task, we can make strides towards improving and maintaining our physical and mental health.

All these parts can contribute to a healthier sense of self and community. An additional bonus is that it can create safer communities that protect against various forms of violence and abuse.

When we are aware of our neighbours, friends and loved ones, we may be better able to spot situations or behaviours that seem “off” or unsafe.

Someone could be using their words or actions to put another person down or make that person feel afraid or controlled. Verbal put downs or social exclusion can make both adults and children feel small and isolated. Physical actions like pushing, slapping or harsh force can be used to punish a person or gain control over them.

Unwanted touching and not respecting a person’s “no” can break their consent and make people feel uncomfortable and unsafe in their relationships or friendships with others.

These behaviours can harm people and make them feel isolated from sources of support like family, neighbours and organizations. These behaviours can lead to bullying, dating violence or family abuse which have no place in our communities.

Connecting with others can create a stronger community that can lean on and look out for each other. We may be better able to recognize behaviours that lead to unsafe relationships.

We can offer our support to those who are impacted by these behaviours with a listening ear, affirming that we believe them and referring to professional support as needed. Saying “hi” to our neighbours, inviting them over for a barbeque, or spending time with those who mean the most to us can go a long way.

Together, we can create a culture free of violence, stronger neighbourhoods and enjoy a fun and safe summer.

CASASC offers a 24 hour help line for those dealing with sexual violence impacts in our community. Call or text 1-866-956-1099, or webchat at for confidential support, information and referrals.

Kailee Mears is a prevention educator at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

Article as published in the Red Deer Advocate.

What happens on a sexual violence help line?

What happens on a 24/7 Sexual Violence Helpline? (60 min)

Join us for an informal session about operating and volunteering on a 24/7 sexual violence helpline.

Supported by volunteers with CASASC and available by phone, text and webchat to anyone in Alberta, the help line provides support to anyone impacted by sexual violence (direct or indirect) and is a resourcing and support service.

Use this opportunity to learn about the help line and how you can utilize it in your community/workplace. Hear what it takes to volunteer on a help line. Help us share this free resource out to our community. We are here for you.

Free, register here

Upcoming dates:

Tuesday, November 28 – 6:00 – 7:00 pm MST

Tuesday, December 13 – 6:00 – 7:00 pm MST

Education Program receives Inspiration Award

The CASASC Education Program is the recipient of a provincial award recognizing leadership in sexual violence prevention.

CASASC Education team members attended the 2022 Inspiration Awards ceremony in Calgary on June 24.

A total of ten Inspiration Awards were presented by the Ministry of Community and Social Services to individuals and groups for their leadership in ending family violence and abuse in communities across the province. Awards recognized leadership in preventing family violence, sexual violence, child abuse and bullying.

The awards were presented by Jason Luan, Minister of Community and Social Services with the Honourable Lois Mitchell acting as Master of Ceremonies.

CASASC received its’ program award for showing leadership in sexual violence prevention.

“Having to adapt to COVID realities, in October 2020 the education program underwent a complete revision of all programming, developing content to virtual teaching modalities and adapting to meet the needs of in-person teaching dynamics,” said Lois Mitchell at the ceremony. “The CASASC Education Program grew in the following months from one solidified program into five formal school offerings for Grades K-12, with full availability to schools and community starting September 2021.

“Through the expansion of programs and age-appropriate content and topics, the education program has contributed to the enhanced awareness and prevention of sexual violence and the creation of healthy relationships for all schools within central Alberta. Offering programs at no-cost and either virtual of in-person delivery models, the education program helps to reduce barriers to their programs and are quickly becoming a recognized and recommended sources for primary prevention programming.”

The CASASC Education Program is a prevention-focused program designed to prevent sexual violence in the central Alberta region. It is the home of educational programming like No Secrets K-4 and Healthy Dating Relationships 101. The team currently consists of five educators who completed 477 presentations in the 2021-2022 school year.

This is the second Inspiration Award received by CASASC. In 2018, CASASC received a group leadership award for offering innovative and comprehensive programs and services.

What we can learn from the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation case

By Sarah Maetche and Carlia Schwab

Like so many out there, we have been combing through the depths of Twitter and reading story after story on the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial. After six weeks of testimony, and with the jury currently in deliberation at the time of writing, society has seen a gut-wrenching exposure of these two working actors’ relationship.

Depp, known from the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Tim Burton films to name a few, claims a 2018 op-ed written by Heard where she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse,” defamed him – his career and his reputation.

Heard, known from films like Aquaman, Justice League and The Danish Girl, has countersued with the claim that Depp’s attorney called her abuse allegations a “hoax.”

The defamation trial taking place in Virgina has been live-streamed and watched by millions across the globe. Depp has received waves of support on TikTok and Twitter, showing the scales of social media justice seem to be tipped his way.

Depp and Heard were married in 2015 after meeting on the set of the film The Rum Diary. Their relationship has been volatile with a highly public divorce, multiple court appearances and accusations of both verbal and physical abuse, including sexual violence during their relationship. The defamation trail has become yet another vehicle baring the shell of their relationship.

After the verdict of the trial is heard, the court of public opinion will also have its’ ruling. In the aftermath of this over exposure, there is much we can learn from this case and how it translates into a review of support services for all survivors of domestic violence.

Individuals will no doubt offer their opinions of the pair’s relationship, the information brought to light during the trial and the outcome of the trial, often in strong alignment to either Heard or Depp’s experiences.

Open dialogue and conversations are needed in this space, shifting away from a Depp vs. Heard, “she said vs. he said” narrative, or victim blaming statements towards an empathetic understanding that both individuals have experiences of being harmed by violence and participating in harmful, often violent, behaviors.

We can learn a lot from this case, in particular how society attributes violence and victim-identifying characteristics disproportionately to one gender over another. Media and public opinion often portray domestic violence impacts and the realities of survivors as highly one-gendered and female supported, often to the detriment of male identified survivors who are too looking for support.

Placing fame, wealth, socio-economic status, popularity, power, privilege, gender and sexual orientation aside, both male and female identified individuals can be impacted by and be survivors of domestic violence.

When engaging in conversations, providing support to disclosures of violence, and deep diving into media stories, we encourage individuals to focus not only on what their beliefs, thoughts and attitudes are about this case, but to be open to alternative ways of understanding domestic and relationship violence. Every individual who has experience violence should be offered support and understanding. They should have access to support without the fear of judgement, retribution, victim blaming or of not being believed.

Over half of adult Albertans have supported, or knows someone, who has experienced sexual violence. Given the highly public and social nature of the Depp vs. Heard defamation case, consider the tone of conversations you have. You can offer an open, unbiased and supportive space for your friends, family and peers to connect and debrief, and seek out resources for support. Remember that anyone of any gender can be impacted by violence and deserves access to support.

Sarah Maetche is the communications and administration manager at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre. Carlia Schwab is the education and community relations manager at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

Article as published in the Red Deer Advocate.