British Columbia

Victoria night club hires 'consent captain'

A new position at the Victoria Event Centre will offer support to those who feel threatened at events and will also work to change problematic behaviour.

The new position will focus on preventing sexualized violence at events.

Tanille Geib says she's already had difficult conversations with people about problematic behaviour at events (Paloma Kapitany)

A new position at the Victoria Event Centre is aimed at preventing sexual harassment and assault.

Consent captain Tanille Geib will support people who feel threatened and talk to others about their behaviour.  

Geib hopes to not only address sexual harassment but also help people change the way they act in a bar setting.

"If they want connection, then I can maybe give some tips on how to truly get it, as opposed to harassing someone to get that attention or that connection."

Geib says she's been doing the work for about a month and has had some uncomfortable conversations.

"I've had a variety of responses. Some of them have been positive. Some have been very dismissive."  

Staff at the Victoria Event Centre say the move to hire a consent captain is linked to the #MeToo movement (Victoria Event Centre)

If a person is not willing to talk about their problematic behaviour, they could be kicked out of the venue.

More than a bouncer

The Event Centre's booking agent, Chris Fretwell, says while the consent captain can have someone removed for bad behaviour, the role is more involved than what a typical bouncer would do.

"[A bouncer] is not equipped to have a really nuanced understanding of some of those dynamics that come up and how to deal with them in a way that's constructive and helps someone figure out where they went wrong."

Fretwell says he hasn't heard from management at other nightclubs or bars but welcomes their interest.

"We would definitely love to see others taking these kinds of steps as well, and we're happy to work with others to figure out how they can offer these kinds of services to their own patrons."

'Essential work'

The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre is supportive of the new position but says it's just a first step in addressing sexualized violence.

Carissa Ropponen with the VSAC says she hopes to see further work within Victoria's bar scene.  

"It's a piece of essential work that needs to be done to create a cultural shift across our community."

A Victoria Police spokesperson says the department is aware of the consent captain position and supports "any business that is trying to protect its patrons."

The consent captain will be present at most of the Event Centre's public events and will be available for private events if requested.