Women’s Breakfast for Everyone takeaway: ‘The shared capacity for change in this room is large’

city_scope_logo-cmykHis guest speaker engagement March 7 in St. Thomas was far from a routine outing.
In fact, his appearance Thursday morning at the St. Thomas Seniors Centre, proved a humbling experience for Globe and Mail columnist and award-winning author Andre Picard.
For the first time in the 14-year history of the Women’s Breakfast for Everyone, the 200 or so in attendance – including many high school students – would digest the thoughts and opinions of a man at the Violence Against Women, Services Elgin County fundraiser.
His appearance was equally compelling in the fact, as the first male speaker, he addressed the issue of sexual and domestic violence inflicted upon women by men.
And, as so often is the case, if anything goes wrong, it is the woman who shoulders the burden of blame.

Picard’s latest book Matters of Life and Death deals with public health issues in this country, and he had plenty of statistics at his disposal.
One in three women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime and one in four women has already experienced domestic violence, something Picard called a public health issue.
Women's breakfast Picard“Misogyny is a disease that affects half our population,” stressed Picard, and the effects of sexual violence often result in post-traumatic stress disorder in its victims.
In fact, over time, it can alter an individual’s DNA, resulting in intergenerational trauma.
“It ripples across our communities and families,” he added, possibly wrecking an entire generation.
“We need to tackle this epidemic like we would any other epidemic,” said Picard.
Requiring a prescription incorporating prevention, treatment, and education.
And, a cultural change that will not transpire overnight.
“Men have to change,” Picard pointed out, “that is a start.”
Sensitive to the fact a half-dozen law enforcement representatives were in attendance, he thanked them for being there and said he didn’t want to downplay the role of police.
However, he added, “The criminal justice system doesn’t always work for women.”
He advised 20 per cent of complaints are dismissed and it is not always easy to prosecute.
“But that doesn’t mean complaints should be dismissed.”
He did dismiss the popular belief all people who are violent suffer from mental illness.
“They are largely learned behaviours . . . they know they can get away with it.”
We have to change societal beliefs and the common practice of “slut shaming.”
“Sexual harassment is dismissed as no big deal . . . it is passively accepted because men can’t help themselves.”

“The shared capacity for change in this room is large. We are more than enough for the change that we seek.”

A change will come about, outlined Picard, through good sex education that teaches respect and communication.
In addition, “We have to minimize the fall-out after a sexual assault,” with the understanding incarceration can quite often make the offender even more violent.
“We have to re-double our efforts,” stressed Picard, “and demand more.”
He advised it is not uncommon for men to feel uncomfortable when dealing with sexual violence; resulting in the impression all men are to blame.
But, reminded Picard, “Men have had it easy for a long time.”
So, men need to be an ally to women.
“Use your privilege to do good,” encouraged Picard. “Amplify women’s’ voice.”
And most important, according to Picard, “When women speak, listen and don’t interrupt. Learn to be receptive. We can all do better.”
Women's breakfast Be The ChangejpgAnd the takeaway message?
“Be the change. There is no better way to say it.”
While surveying the room, Picard advised “The most hopeful sign is young people here this morning.
“They are not bubble-wrapped millennial kids.”
In her closing remarks, Violence Against Women, Services Elgin County executive director Liz Brown assured all women in attendance, “We are not alone and we are not to blame.
“The shared capacity for change in this room is large. We are more than enough for the change that we seek.”

A print version of this story will appear in the March 12 edition of The Echo.


Well, not quite as dramatic as the 1984 film of the same title, however, expect major disruption along that thoroughfare this spring and summer.
Preliminary work is now underway on the reconstruction of Elm Street, from Sunset Drive to First Avenue.
The project falls under the city’s Complete Streets banner to accommodate a variety of transportation modes.
Elm Street rebuild 1jpgWhen completed, the two-lane roadway will have pedestrian-friendly and cycling spaces and the extension of the two-way left turn lane to help with the flow of traffic along this busy route, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Also included is the replacement of sewers, water mains, utilities, traffic signals, the road itself and sidewalk.
Sections of Elm Street will be closed to vehicles at various times during the reconstruction.
Phase 1 is expected to begin next month, with Phase 2 scheduled for July.
Elm Street rebuild detourjpgA detour route will utilize Wilson Avenue, Wellington Street, and First Avenue, with access to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital via First Avenue and Elm Street during Phase 1.
Local traffic will be able to access all properties and businesses in the construction zone.
The work is budgeted at $8.8 million, none of which will come from the tax levy, but instead from development charges, reserves and water/sanitary/stormwater charges.
The project is expected to be completed by November of this year.
Complete information can be found on the city’s website.
Related post:



Back in January, we documented a new undertaking from the St. Thomas Police Service called COP’s, Citizens on Patrol.
At the time, St. Thomas Police Chief Chris Herridge explained, “It’s like more eyes and ears out there. It’s like Neighbourhood Watch on wheels and foot patrol.”
He added volunteers are “going to be patrolling where the people are at community events and downtown.”
COP-Logo-1024x576Well, the service is now accepting applications at http://www.stps.on.ca/cop_application/
According to the information website, “Volunteers will be required to submit an
application and subject to a background investigation. The background investigation will consist mainly of electronic checks however can entail a more thorough investigation if deemed necessary. Applicants will be interviewed to determine suitability to the program.”
Various conditions have to be met, including a minimum age of 18 years; you cannot have been charged or convicted of any criminal offence for which you have not been pardoned; you must successfully complete all mandatory training and possess a valid Class ‘G’ driver’s licence; possess strong communication and observation skills and positively reflect the community of St. Thomas, the St. Thomas City Police Service, and the Citizens on Patrol at all times while a member of the program.
According to Herridge, the hope is for an initial intake of 25 volunteers who would likely be deployed at all hours of the day or night.
He aims to launch the program this summer and Herridge added, “I think if the public is aware that we have some extra eyes and ears out there, maybe that will help curtail some of the crime.”

Related post:

COP’s soon to be the eyes and ears of St. Thomas Police Service


In response to our March 2 post on St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston’s comments at the State of the Municipalities luncheon last month at St. Anne’s Centre, Tony Bendel posted on Facebook, “Are our neighbors willing to work with us now and work toward greater things for the future? Together is where we must be.”
Preston had stressed a healthy, expanding regional economy can be nurtured via a co-operative effort with the city’s neighbours.


prespa revised condos1jpgA Local Planning Appeal Tribunal is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 11 at the Port Stanley Arena to deal with the proposed Prespa Homes condominium development in that community. Prespa – which had previously sought to build a nine-storey tower – is now seeking to build a pair of five-storey structures on William Street. The hearing is scheduled to last five days.

HOPEjpgHospice Outreach Programs of Elgin will host a March Break Children Experiencing Grief Camp geared to youngsters aged 5 to 12. It’s a “fun and creative program to help with the emotions during grief.” It runs 1 to 4 p.m. March 13-15 at 141 Wellington Street. For more info or to register, email hopeinelgin@hotmail.com or call 226-721-5901.

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