Coasters at Regina bars spark conversations about sexual assault

A sexual assault awareness campaign has made its way to Regina and hopes to open up a dialogue every time you pick up your drink at the local pub.

City's sexual assault rate increased by 16% in 2016

Kendra Strong-Garcia with the YWCA said she hopes the coasters will open up dialogue about sexual assault, rather than pretending it doesn't exist. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

A sexual assault awareness campaign is hoping to start a dialogue about the subject every time someone picks up their drink at their pub of choice.

Regina's YWCA has brought the Blamé campaign to the city. It uses drink coasters to prompt people to discuss the subject.

"I think by having the coasters, having the conversations, that people will start to acknowledge and recognize maybe the roles that they have played in the past or roles that they have witnessed people play around victim-blaming in that they'll think about that differently," said Kendra Strong-Garcia, senior director of programs at YWCA. 

Some instances of victim blaming include saying the victim had too much to drink or was dressed promiscuously. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

The organization teamed up with 10 businesses in Regina to spread the campaign to revellers, which Strong-Garcia hopes will grow to include training as years go by. 

She eventually wants training for bar staff and bystanders to better recognize signs of sexual assault so they will be more confident in addressing the situation and offering assistance.

"We wanted to have people having these conversations, talking about it, not just pretending that it doesn't happen at all," Strong-Garcia said.

Regina's sexual assault rate rose 16 per cent in 2016, to 145 incidents from 125 in 2015.

"It's really quite sad that that number is rising," Strong-Garcia said.

Despite that, she said the reaction from bars within the city was "oustanding."

Jason Gwilliam, day manager of O'Hanlon's, has a daughter and said he is always thinking of her safety.

"I think it's our duty to help educate people. It's an important issue," he said.

The 10 businesses involved in the campaign are:

  • O'Hanlon's Irish Pub.
  • Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar.
  • Victoria's Tavern.
  • Leopold's Tavern.
  • Bushwakker Brewpub.
  • Malt City Whiskey and Beer.
  • Flip Eatery and Drink.
  • Malty National Brewing.
  • Cathedral Social Hall.
  • Shannon's Pub.

The campaign wraps up May 30.

With files from Kendall Latimer