-By Joan Tuchlinsky, SASC Public Education Manager
I have been with the Male Allies program since the beginning and when I think of the Male Allies program I think of hope. The program has always been a symbol of hope for the creation of a world where there is gender equity and no gendered violence. It has always been gratifying to work with men who understand gendered violence as a men’s issue and value the leadership and direction of those that identify as survivors, women, transgender and/or non-binary.
Within the program itself there have been a lot of changes. I am pleased that the program now has a more intersectional approach that is more inclusive. We have increased multi-session programming like our Young Men’s Group (YMG) which reflects best practice for changing attitudes and behaviours. With three full-time staff in the program now, we are expanding our programming into the tech and sports sectors and have collaborations with Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region, the Cambridge Y.W.C.A., Wilfrid Laurier University and the Ontario Hockey League to name a few. There is increased appreciation and demand for the program and that has also led to increased funding from diverse organizations including, but not limited to, our long time funder The Astley Family Foundation, the Region of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
Beyond our program we are experiencing increased awareness in our community and globally of the unique role and responsibility of boys and men to end gendered violence; and, increased awareness of the benefit of healthy masculinity for boys and men themselves. It has been great to see the rise in male ally programs in Canada which provides opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration.
On our 20th anniversary I would love to be able to say that our community is free of gendered violence, however social change is a long term process. So, in ten years I would like to see stable funding that meets the demand for the program. I would like to see consistent, multi-session programming about healthy relationships and healthy masculinity in our schools. I would like to see businesses, sports organizations and educational institutions investing in multi-session training and train-the-trainer programming. I would like to see a large network of male ally programs across Ontario and Canada with regular funded conferences providing opportunities for networking, collaborating and learning. I would like to see a substantial increase in women, transgender and/or non-binary persons holding senior leadership roles in government, policing, and businesses. I would like to see equity strategies not only written but lived out. I would love to have sexual assault centres funded to meet the demand on our services so when someone calls in for counselling they are seen in a reasonable amount of time. In order for all of this to come true, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but I truly believe when we come together as a community we can make great change. I have seen evidence of this in the past ten years and look forward to continued change over the next ten.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
-Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia
Male Allies staff and volunteers would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Joan for her leadership in the development of the Male Allies program and for her continued support and passion. Joan is a committed advocate in the fight to end sexual and gender based violence and her positive impact on the Male Allies program is evident daily.