New Brunswick

Sexual assault prevention at concerts just as crucial as drug caution, nurse says

With Evolve Festival underway in New Brunswick, concert-goers are being warned about the importance of sexual consent, as well as about the dangers of drug use.

Concertgoers should take a designated responsible person, Horizon Health nurse advises

The 2017 Evolve Festival runs through Sunday. (Chris Smith/Evolve Festival/Flickr)

New Brunswick is diving head first into festival season, and medical professionals are not only warning music-lovers about the dangers of drug use, but they're also stressing the importance of sexual consent.

Emmanuelle Landry, a sexual assault nurse examiner, said the sexual assault rate often increases with events such as this weekend's Evolve Festival near Moncton.

"We see a little increase with festivals, especially in the summer, where there's more alcohol involved, and drugs," Landry told CBC's Information Morning Moncton.

"A person who is intoxicated, whether it is with alcohol or drugs, technically the person cannot consent to any type of sexual activity."

Evolve has already been gearing up to combat the risk of drug overdoses this weekend.

Staff have stocked up on naxolone kits in case of fentanyl overdoses, and have doubled-up on paramedics and emergency personnel on site.

But considering the prevalence of drugs and alcohol at music festivals, Landry said, keeping an eye on friends who are vulnerable and unable to make responsible decisions is key.

Evolve spent its first year in the Moncton area last year after relocating from Antigonish. (CBC)

"You should always have a designated person who won't be drinking and will stay sober to take care of the others. I think that's a great decision," she said.

"I think to be aware of it — be aware not to drink too much, be aware of being responsible."

Keeping the peace

Landry said also stressed that both men and women need to be aware of the need for consent and of what constitutes a sexual assault. How a woman dresses, for instance, has nothing to do with consent.

"We should be able to do what we want to do, and without being scared of getting assaulted," she said.

Jonas Colter, the music festival's executive director, said staff and security are concerned but prepared for any emergencies.

Fentanyl overdoses have increased in New Brunswick and the rest of the Maritimes although they have not reached the crisis stage seen in other parts of Canada. (CBC)

Drug use and binge drinking intensify not only the harm resulting directly from usage but also the risk of sexual assault, especially against vulnerable people.

"We're concerned about underage drinking and we're definitely concerned about fentanyl," Colter said.

"A lot of our staff has taken courses on how to administer naloxone and we doubled our paramedic staff to ensure if any emergencies occur they'll be addressed properly."

With files from Information Morning