Policies  Safer Spaces Program

Current as of February 2023


Edmonton Poetry Festival Society produces events that take place in Treaty 6 territory in amiskwaciy-wâskahikan aka Edmonton. amiskwaciy-wâskahikan has been a gathering place, a place for sharing stories, cultures and collective wealth and wellbeing since time immemorial. We are both fortunate to be able to continue this practice and responsible for approaching it with care, nurture, and respect. We encourage and welcome the practice of oral traditions in all forms that adhere to the pursuit of a community of care and awareness.

This program is intentionally titled ‘Safer Spaces’. This is to communicate our understanding that safety is relative, and everyone’s requirements to feel safe are different. Using the term ‘Safer Space’ also reflects the fact that discrimination and harassment can and do occur even in spaces where norms, policies, and procedures have been put in place to prevent such behaviour, and that the work of increasing safety is an active process that should never be considered “done”.

The templates for parts of this program are derived from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Alberta Human Rights Commission, and the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act.


Active Listener: A member of EPFS trained in responding to harassment, and receiving disclosures who will be present at every event and workshop to ensure the values of safety and inclusion are upheld.

Consent: A freely given, ongoing, active, and clear-minded agreement to engage in the activity in question. Agreement or a “yes” that is obtained through pressure, coercion, force, or threats, or by taking advantage of intoxication, impairment, or incapacity is not freely given consent. Silence or ambiguity do not constitute consent.

Additionally, there is no consent when:

Disclosure: A verbal or written report by any person to a member of the Edmonton Poetry Festival that they have experienced abuse, harassment, or misconduct. EPFS may initiate an investigation and resolution process and will honour any requests for anonymity by the person making the report.

Complaint: A written report or statement by any person to a member of EPFS under the Edmonton Poetry Festival Safer Spaces process for the purpose of initiating an investigation and resolution process.

Harassment: EPFS defines Harassment as any misconduct whether it is verbal, physical or sexual in nature that is likely to cause offence, fear or humiliation to any person. It is conduct or comment, either one time or repeating, that:

Harassment includes conduct or comments, or the creation of a negative psychological and/or emotional environment that humiliates, excludes, or isolates an individual or group

Harassment also includes bullying, which is a form of aggression that may include physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. It can include persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour, abuse of power, and/or unfair sanctions which make the individual feel threatened, humiliated, and/or vulnerable.

Safer Space: A place where people can fully and comfortably participate without fear of being harassed or discriminated against because of their biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability.

Sexual Violence: Any sexual act or act of a sexual nature, or act targeting sexuality, whether physical or psychological, committed without consent. This includes, but is not limited to sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, distribution of intimate images, inducing intoxication, impairment or incapacity for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity, and other analogous conduct.

It is the responsibility of the person/people pursuing an activity to ensure consent from the other, and to recognize that consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Sexual Assault: Any form of sexual contact without consent. This can include unwanted or forced kissing, fondling, grabbing, touching, vaginal or anal penetration, or oral sexual contact.

Solicitation: Any comment, behaviour, or act that can be perceived as soliciting sexual favours, or placing sexual conditions onto any person’s involvement in an activity, event, promotion, or employment (paid or unpaid) opportunity.

Sunset Clause (or Sunset Provision): a measure within a statute, regulation or other law that provides for the law to cease to be effective after a specified date, unless further action is taken to extend it.

Retaliation: Taking, attempting to take, or threatening to take any adverse action or retribution of any kind against anyone involved in a report of harassment, abuse, or misconduct process. This includes, but is not limited to, intimidation, pressuring, harassment made in person, electronically, or through third parties.

Our Commitment

The Edmonton Poetry Festival Society (EPFS) is committed to creating an environment where all readers, participants, attendees and staff at any EPFS-produced event are able to listen to, study, discuss, or create poetry without fear of being harassed, discriminated against, or made to feel unwelcome or unsafe.

We believe in the ongoing process of learning and adapting for our community, and commit to the following:

We believe and support people who have experienced harassment, violence, or discrimination. The safety of our readers, poets, volunteers, staff, and audience is our #1 priority.

Code of Conduct

EPFS believes everyone has the right to feel safe at any event they attend, regardless of their age, ancestry, cultural background, family status, gender identity or expression, marital status, mental or physical ability, place of origin, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or source of income, or any other prohibited grounds within the Alberta Human Rights Act.

This includes attendees, readers, poets, board members, staff, volunteers and anyone else attending an event produced by EPFS, including our annual Festival, and WORD*LAB. By attending or participating in an EPFS event, you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct.

Anti-Harassment Policy

Refer to the EPFS Anti-Harassment Policy.

Artistic Expression/Art in Safe(r) Spaces

The Edmonton Poetry Festival Society (EPFS) recognizes poetry addresses difficult and evocative issues. We support the spirit of storytelling, the vulnerability of the artistic process and the choices made by our poets on stage to share their stories. We work hard to keep our Festival and events safe. We want to ensure everyone feels physically and emotionally safe and enthusiastically welcomed. But we need the help of our community to make that possible. This means looking out for each other, communicating often, openly and honestly, respecting each other, and being responsible for ourselves, our actions, and our impacts. Together, we can create safer spaces where everyone feels valued and welcome.

We ask our audience and workshop participants to practice self-care in their actions and behaviours. If you need, please approach us to work towards a safer space. We are a community and your physical, mental, and emotional safety is important to us.

Active Listener

EPFS will ensure an active listener is present at every event and workshop to ensure the values of safety and inclusion are upheld.

The Active Listener will:

Reporting a Disclosure or Complaint

EPFS recognizes the difference between a person disclosing information and a person filing a complaint. We respect a person’s right to make the choice regarding how to report an incident. All complaints will be taken seriously. The rights of all concerned will be respected.

Below are the ways a person can notify Edmonton Poetry Festival of an incident and/or file a report:

Online Submission

Please go to the EPFS Report Form to submit a report.

Submissions are received and read by the Review Committee (Board President, Artistic Producer, Operations Manager).
On our online form, you will have the option to submit anonymously, or request for EPFS to follow-up with you.


At any point you can email saferspaces@edmontonpoetryfestival.com if you wish to make a report. This inbox is monitored regularly. You will have the option to request your report be anonymous or request EPFS follow-up.

In Person

If you wish to make a report in person at an EPFS produced event, please approach the Active Listener (see above: Active Listener), the Board President, or the Artistic Producer. You will have the option to submit your report anonymously, or request for EPFS to follow up with you.

Please note that anonymous disclosures limit our ability to conduct a thorough investigation.

Processing a Disclosure/Report

As stated in our Anti-Harassment Policy, the people below receive and read every Report:

Board President: Paul Pearson
Vice President: Kim Mannix
Artistic Producer: Shima Robinson
Operations Manager: meagan prus

All efforts will be made to review any report within 48 hours of filing.

Complaints or disclosures will be taken seriously and investigated to the extent that is reasonably practicable, using the following guidelines: 

In the case of a conflict of interest, or a report is made involving one of the above EPFS members who process and investigate reports, EPFS will adjust the Review Committee members with an EPFS Board Member. 

Investigating a Report

When necessary, EPFS will create a plan for investigation and/or adjudication in collaboration with the Review Committee, the person disclosing, and with respect for people who have been affected.

The Board President will notify the person alleged to have committed the harassment of the complaint in writing and provide them with information concerning the circumstances of the complaint

When necessary, EPFS may impose interim measures for the duration of the investigation.

Following the conclusion of the investigation, the Board President will inform the person who experienced/disclosed and the person alleged to have committed the harassment of the results of the investigation.

Following any immediate response, the Review Committee commits to completing the review process within 2 weeks of the incident. In some cases, a sunset clause will be included in the response. 

Substantiated Report, Resolution and Action

Substantiated reports are defined as being reasonably authenticated by EPFS.

If a complaint is substantiated, appropriate action will be taken, as decided by the Review Committee. This may include, but is not limited to: oral/written apology, study and intro of policy/procedural changes to correct and remedy future events from happening, formal reprimand, removal and/or banning from events.

Where harassment has not been substantiated, no action will be taken against anyone who has made a complaint in good faith. 

All resolutions will be shared, in writing, with the parties involved ahead of action being taken.

Throughout this process, EPFS will strive to find a resolution that respects, centres, and follows the needs/wishes of the person who experienced harm.

Privacy and Confidentiality

EPFS pledges to respect the privacy of all concerned as much as possible. EPFS will not disclose the circumstances related to an incident of harassment or the names of the parties involved (including the complainant, the person alleged to have committed the harassment, and any witnesses) except where necessary to investigate the incident, to take corrective action, to inform the parties involved in the incident of the results of the investigation and corrective action taken, or as required by law.

Forms and Links

Links and Resources

Please find below an incomplete and evolving list of community resources available to anyone who requires or desires support:

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.  

Policy and Review Tracking

Date created: November 2022
Date reviewed: Fabruary 2023

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