Making bars safer in Halifax | Food | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Making bars safer in Halifax

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre and Ladies Beer League fundraise for a local Safe Bars program.

International Women’s Day Craft Fair
and Panel Discussion
Thursday March 8, 5-9pm
Timber Lounge, 2712 Agricola Street

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre and Ladies Beer League are teaming up to make bars safer for women.

“Alcohol is the most commonly used substance to facilitate sexual assault,” says Dee Dooley, regional capacity co-ordinator at Avalon. “Bar staff, serving staff, venue staff have the unique position—as both witnesses and potential targets of sexualized violence—to intervene in a way that really will change the culture.”

On International Women’s Day, the two organizations are hosting a panel discussion and craft fair in an effort to fundraise to bring the Safe Bars program to Halifax. The program (which was originally formed in Washington, D.C.) introduces bystander education to bar staff so they can safely intervene in cases of sexual harassment and assault. 

“I think it kind of reflects what the LBL does as an organization as a whole,” says League chair Pam Crouse. “We sort of started out as a group with the purpose of sort of facilitating women’s advancement within the industry itself. A lot of the original founding members actually worked at breweries and bars. There were so few of us at the time and it’s really taken off, which is really nice to see, but there’s always more you can do.”

The discussion panel will be made up of women in the beer and food industry, including Emily Tipton of Boxing Rock Brewing, Harpreet Jagdeo of The Coastal Cafe and Marika Bouchard of Black Sheep restaurant.

“Women have a lot to add,” says Dooley. “To me, as an outsider [of the industry], it seems like a pretty male-dominated industry, and so I think this event is great because it uplifts and supports women who are doing the work within that environment and celebrates that.”

Crouse acknowledges it can be taboo to discuss the challenges of working as a female bartender, as well as what one may witness among patrons. “You just don’t have the words, right? And so, to get a bunch of educated, savvy women together to slam out this issues—it helps get a dialogue going,” she says.

“This is exactly the right time to do a program like this in Halifax.”

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