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CAFE Calls for Open Minded Dialogue in Response to Censorship and Polarization on Canadian Campuses

CAFE Calls for Open Minded Dialogue in Response to Censorship and Polarization on Canadian Campuses

Statement issued Monday, November 28, 2016

In recent weeks, Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto has become a controversial figure due to his stance on several issues at the intersection of freedom of speech and identity politics.

Reasonable people may disagree on the best way to simultaneously protect the rights of transgendered individuals while also protecting the rights of academics to express unpopular viewpoints. However, we must all accept as our starting point that it is wrong to engage in tactics of intimidation, harassment or aggression in order to silence dissent, and that we must all be held to these same standards.

In the midst of the wildest disagreement on possibly everything else, we must all unite in our effort to build a university campus that remains a safe place for open dialogue even – and especially – on sensitive and politically charged topics.

The Canadian Association for Equality is an educational charity guided by values which stand firmly on the side of protecting individuals from harassment, hate and discrimination as well as promoting equality of opportunity for all.

CAFE has decided to release this statement as a result of the lessons we may draw from our own history, for some of our own events have been subject to riotous behaviour on the part of our critics. These unsuccessful attempts to derail CAFE’s message that gender equality must be inclusive of all genders have taken the form of aggressive bullying, violations of the University of Toronto Policy on the Disruption of Meetings, and unlawful behaviour such as pulling fire alarms and blocking emergency exits.

We are now seeing the same unacceptable acts of aggressive intimidation in response to the comments by Professor Jordan Peterson. We are not commenting here on the particulars of Professor Peterson’s beliefs or ideas, because to do so would be beside the point. Bullying, harassment and violence are wrong no matter who those acts are committed by, and we must all condemn this behaviour. It’s that simple.

Such acts are especially repugnant at a Canadian university. Whatever your views of Professor Peterson’s position, it is not only the right but the highest duty of university professors to pursue truth through research and debate. Professor Peterson has been careful to articulate his point of view in a civil, clear, responsible and rational manner, and while others are free to disagree strongly with him, his unpopular beliefs should not subject him to administrative censure or student mobbing.

We support Professor Peterson’s right to discuss and even to advocate his viewpoint just as we support the right of his critics to fully argue their position in response. We are heading in a dangerous direction if we do otherwise. These efforts at censorship, which are fast becoming the new norm at Canadian universities, must not be allowed to go unchallenged. Efforts to keep students free from hurt feelings are instead leading us to a more polarized, dangerous and aggressive campus.

CAFE supports valiant work now underway to respond to these developments not with further polarization but with opportunities for open dialogue and engagement. We applaud the University of Toronto for organizing a public forum to debate the issues raised by Professor Peterson.

Our own organization will do its part to foster dialogue when we screen The Red Pill on Sunday, December 2nd at 7:00PM at the University of Toronto. The film starts with the assumption that feminists and men’s rights activists exist across a chasm. Then, through the efforts of the film’s protagonist to engage in mutual understanding, the film provides a lesson in how open-minded dialogue may lead to the discovery of unexpected common ground between once rival ideologies.

We sincerely hope such a lesson is quickly heeded, and we promise to continue to work to preserve Canadian campuses as truly safe spaces where ideas may be expressed freely without fear of intimidation.

CAFE Calgary Hosts First Meetup

CAFE Calgary hosted their first meetup group meeting in October. Here is the presentation provided by Monique Dietvorst. You can follow her on twitter @msdietvorstFuture CAFE Calgary meetups will be at Alexander Calhoun Calgary Public Library Anyone is welcome at meetups. Visit http://www.meetup.com/EqualityCalgary/ for more information.

Services for Men and Families Arrive in Calgary

By Dan McKinnon, CAFE Calgary Director

The CAFE Calgary branch has received a donation for a one-day per week office space from the clinic of registered psychologists where I have my practice. The offices are in a beautifully renovated home that is licensed to offer mental health services within a residential neighborhood setting. Following are the programs/initiatives we are starting with:

1. Conversations – At least once a month we are running a meetup group to talk about general issues that men and their families are experiencing here in Alberta. We have 50+ members in our meetup group at this time. Monique is leading this initiative/program.

2. Circles – At least twice a month we are holding a men’s peer support circle/group based on the one that the Canadian Centre for Men and Families currently runs in Toronto. We will also begin a mindfulness meditation circle/group for men and their families in the new year. I will be the facilitator for these groups.

3. Counsels – We have established a “Pro-Bono” Counselling Bank of registered psychologists who are willing to provide us via letter of agreement with three free counselling hours per year for men/boys in distress/crisis. Our plan is to grow this “Bank” via networking within the counselling psychology community and advertising in our professional association. Carol is leading this initiative/program.

4. Connections – We are engaging organizations in the Calgary community who hold and support a similar interest and commitment to the mental health and well-being of men and boys as a means of creating strategic alliances, sharing fund-raising resources and increasing public awareness.

One day per week is a small start and at the same time it is a strong start. If our dreams come true and we have our way there will be a full-time CAFE Calgary Centre for Men & Families in the future.

If you know of someone in Calgary who can benefit from the above or who can provide resources, both in person and/or financially, for the above please have them contact us.

Report on Healing Journeys Conference 2016

Second Annual Healing Journeys Conference
October 20-21, 2016

The Healing Journeys Conference was a huge success. This is the only Conference in Toronto that focuses on all aspects of men and trauma. Since this was our second annual event I was particularly pleased that we experienced a growth in attendance (about 60 people over the course of the day, as compared to under 40 last year) as well as a much more comprehensive treatment of men and trauma. This year we did a better job covering both sexual violence and domestic abuse, as well as including a deeper focus on the intersection of trauma and mental health.

I want to thank our amazing sponsors. Our Silver Level sponsor Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre and our Bronze level sponsors Rochelle Cantor Law and our own member Vijay Rajan. My gratitude also to all our speakers and to our volunteers for making the day a success. I am so pleased at how the CCMF has come together with 3 other amazing agencies – Lynne MacDonell and Associates, the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness and The Gatehouse – to make these unique events a reality!

Here are my notes from the sessions, for those who may be interested in this level of detail:

Helping Men Panel
how to get men to engage in help seeking behaviour?
what works and what doesn’t?
Dustin – 70% of those who survive a suicide attempt will not attempt again
Rob – frame men’s recovery as building skills – skills based on goal -oriented targets cause men are project oriented and problem solving
80% of social workers are women, staff at distress centre mostly women
Adam – when you’re in distress you don’t know what to focus on, men cut themselves off from reading their own bodies, interplay of the mind and body is key
Have whole class stand up and do stretching when anyone is in distress
Dustin recommends Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Assessment Scale

Simona Jellinek
helping survivors proceed through legal process as easily as possible
50% of calls from people who never went to therapist first – maybe because its more formal or less personal to talk to a lawyer
It is a journey
max compensation is $25K for pain and suffering, $10K/year for loss of income (criminal injuries compensation board)
you need to have been employed at the time and had to leave to get loss of income pay
childhood abuse sometimes they pay for loss but rare
Another option is lawsuit – orgs can be sued – this can give power back to the victim
eg. CAS (for abuse foster parents), religious institutions, children’s orgs eg. Scouts, Big Brother/Big Sisters, School boards, other orgs or gov institutions, hospitals eg. nurses who abuse
2 things need to be proved – somebody did it (helps if there is a criminal conviction) and the person was hurt
Recommends psychological assessments – helps court understand how abuse changed person’s life

Agencies panel
Michelle – LAO identified gaps in how DV clients were being treated and how their services would effect clients at home
traditionally 7-8% of victims men now last 6 months up to 17-18%
they are doing screening for men and women – 2 hour family violence program

Tracy Clarke, Victim Witness Assistance Program
they support “vulnerable victims”, their program started with DV victims only but is now broader
once someone claims to be a victim other party will not be provided support – what happens in case of mutual violence?
VMAP – does not assist falsely accused

Survivors of sexual abuse panel
survivors try to reenact the situation to try to control the outcome, but it only causes more pain
the group experience allows me to work backwards merely by listening to other guy’s stories
we may be on a different place on the arc of healing
the severity and longevity of the abuse isn’t as important as how it effects you

Yvonne Bergmans
the role of trauma in thoughts of suicide and self injury
trauma-informed – research by Tara Brach, 2011
emotions are based on our own unique history, experiences, biology
trauma – overwhelm a person’s ability to cope and/or integrate emotions and ideas related to that experience
now as its acknowledged witnessing violence can be as bad as experiencing it directly
developmental – child abuse and neglect, witnessing violence in the home
child protection services are quite new
what magnifies trauma – when “helpers” are insensitive in ways that add shame or blame, being told you asked for it, ignored bruising, not being believed, denying coping mechanisms
eg. self harm not recognized as such
effects include depression and anxiety
particularly for men – depression and anxiety might come out in agitation, anger, being prickly
anger like an umbrella – protective but also can be a weapon or used to hide pain or hurt
predictability and safety not always the same
men often socialized not to ask for help and some of that is really hurting our men in a big way
distinction between non suicidal self injury and behaviour that is intended to kill you
need to ask what is the behaviour for – to keep safer, to show others how badly you hurt, to practice for actually committing suicide, to get high on drugs to make suicide easier later
“we can’t know what we don’t know”
“help I’m experiencing too much joy. what do I do with it?” – no emotion is good or bad but they may be less comfortable
a lot of people don’t have the language of how to ask for help – help people to help you, you need to give people direction, eg. asking hospital for help to deescalate instead of saying you want to commit suicide
write a letter while not in distress to present to hospital when you arrive in ER – it’s harder to find the words when you’re in crises

Men’s Services Come to Cabbagetown

On Saturday and Sunday the Canadian Centre for Men and Families tabled for the first time at the Cabbagetown Street Festival which takes place along Parliament Street in Toronto. This was a great experience and a terrific opportunity to raise awareness in our own neighborhood of the services being offered at the Centre.

We met a lot of people for whom our work seemed to resonate, whether men’s health, family court issues or boys problems with schools. I was particularly impressed by the number of women who visited our booth.

Two particular stories stand out. The first was a mother who was looking for legal help for her son who is struggling to get access to his daughter. The second was a young woman who said she had two male friends that find it difficult to get help for mental health issues.

A special thanks to all our volunteers for making this weekend possible!