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:
- it is given by someone else;
- the person’s unconscious,sleeping,or lacks the capacity to consent;
- it was obtained through the abuse of position of power,trust,or authority;
- the person does not indicate “yes,” says “no,” or implies “no” through words or behaviours; and
- the person changes their mind and withdraws their consent.
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:
- Is demeaning, intimidating, threatening, or abusive;
- Causes offence and should have reasonably been expected to offend;
- serves no legitimate purpose for the environment;
- is a reprisal or threat of reprisal against individual for rejecting a solicitation or advance; and
- undermines authority or respect in the environment,limits opportunities for advancement, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
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.
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:
- Providing trigger warnings at events and workshops.
- EPFS will ensure an active listener is present at every event and workshop to ensure the values of safety and inclusion are upheld.
- Showcasing the poets of our city who are building community through self-expression through words.
- offering opportunities for community to speak in their own voices by providing an Open Mic component to each monthly WORD*LAB event.
- being mindful that our community resides on Treaty Six land;
- Including Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) when considering our policies & procedures; (EPFS Policy – Policy Making & GBA+)
- Take an active role in maintaining a safe and inclusive space that embraces all forms of diversity;
- creating a respectful, safe environment free from harassment, violence, discrimination, bullying, abuse, and solicitation;
- ensuring all readers, volunteers, staff, board members, audience, and/or community members are treated with respect and dignity;
- calling in and/or putting an immediate stop to activities or behaviours that discriminate on the grounds of race, colour, place of origin, gender, age, marital status, religious beliefs, citizenship, mental and physical abilities, sexual orientation, or any other prohibited grounds within the Alberta Human Rights Act;
- Investigating and resolving Reports of Disclosures or Complaints in an appropriately timely manner within the best ability of EPFS in a way that centres the survivor and their needs;
- engaging in ongoing conversations about how to make our spaces more inclusive;
- engaging the support, guidance, and learnings of community members, professional organizations and appropriate external bodies when necessary.
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.
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.
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:
- Be a member of EPFS Board or Staff
- Be trained in responding to harassment and disclosures/complaints.
- Be available if anyone needs to discuss anything that may have come up due to the nature of the programming
- Be available to receive disclosures or reports from a person who witnessed or experienced harm at the event
- Be clearly announced at the beginning of each event and accessible to any and all in attendance.
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:
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 email@example.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.
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:
- Actions assume belief in people who have experienced or disclosed harassment, violence, or discrimination;
- Provide support and resources to persons who have experienced or been affected by the incident;
- Respect and follow the wishes of the person who experienced or disclosed, assuming no others are in immediate danger;
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.
- In cases of a sunset clause the review committee will review the resolution and determine if further action need be considered for the following year. Both the person who experienced/disclosed and alleged person will be offered the opportunity to speak in confidence to the review committee.
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.
- Edmonton Police Services: 780-423-4567
- Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE):
- Support & Information Line: 780-423-4121 (9am – 9pm)
- Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence: 1-866-403-8000 (9am – 9pm) (Toll-free long distance and non-English support available)
- Access chat at sace.ca
- Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC):
- 24-hour Crisis Line: call or text 1-866-956-1099
- Sexual Assault Response Team (SART): can be accessed through any emergency room in the city by checking in with the Triage Nurse and asking to see a Sexual Assault Response Team (or SART) nurse.
- Alberta 2-1-1
- 24/7 Distress Line: 780-482-HELP (4357)
- Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642
- First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
- Family Violence Help Line: 780-310-1818
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
- Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-387-KIDS (5437)
- Children’s Mental Health Crisis Services: 780-427-4491
- Free Walk-In Counseling: dropinyeg.ca
Policy and Review Tracking
Date created: November 2022
Date reviewed: Fabruary 2023