Today, Shambhala Music Festival acknowledges December 6th as Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. We commemorate the lives of those women that were lost to gender-based violence, as well as reflect on violence against women in our society. To contribute to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Shambhala would like to announce the extension of services in what was formerly called our “Women’s Safe Space” to include non-binary, gender-fluid individuals. We will continue to take action to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence with our gender-inclusive “Safe Space.”
Shambhala Music Festival would like to recognize Isaac Rosenberg, an inspired and passionate Harm Reduction volunteer, who contacted us eight years ago asking to discuss the vulnerability of women at festivals. He already had the idea of creating a safe space for women who have been assaulted in some way. Isaac was very driven about the cause and had already shown his dedication by volunteering with our Outreach team, while proving to be an asset. Shambhala’s Harm Reduction team was running with four departments at that time, but this year we embraced the idea of expanding our team to include five departments (ANKORS and Outreach, Options for Sexual Health, Sanctuary, Clean Beats, and Safe Space). Since then, our Safe Space has proven to act as a prevention service for people feeling vulnerable while at our festival. Thank you Isaac Rosenberg, and to all of our committed volunteers that have volunteered their time. It takes a dedicated team to provide seamless services and our volunteers are a testimony of taking action to end violence against women.
Eight years ago we opened the safe space in a teepee and a festival tent that was rented from a female retreat centre located just outside of Nelson, BC. We had couches, beds, warm tea and a dedicated pair of support workers around the clock. When we opened, we had a mission statement of supporting vulnerable women and providing a safe space for them if they were in need. We had protocols in place which detailed working interdepartmentally within our Public Safety team to support any women who disclosed violence of any kind. Our professional team was very supportive of this initiative and was confident that we could respond promptly to provide a safe space, options, resources and support services.
Our safe space is always accessible and open 24/7 during the festival. Our Outreach team talks to our guests as they arrive to discuss consent and assault prevention, while explaining the safe space and inviting women to check it out, along with the other services in our health and well being area. Our Outreach team has also put posters up about consent in highly visible areas. The response was very positive. Women have consistently stopped by the safe space to let us know how much they appreciate our service. Women often talk to us about past traumas within the comfort of our Safe Space. Women also come to us to sleep when they can’t find their tent, or if there is a relationship breakdown at their camp. We provide a safe space for women to be when they are in need, and we believe them.
This year, we plan to extend our services to support anyone with gender violence issues. We want to provide barrier-free services for anyone in need of support due to gender-based violence including non-binary, and gender fluid individuals. We acknowledge the need to evolve as a festival community and broaden our scope even further to support our community. Even though we would like to believe that we live in a world where violence doesn’t exist, it still does. Our services are open around the clock, we always have beds for people in need, and we have a strong Harm Reduction and Public Safety team that takes strides to address prevention and support. We take pride in our services and encourage other music festivals to consider incorporating similar programming. We care about our people, and our people feel supported. It’s all about the people on the dance floor!
Safety Stacey Lock
Director of Harm Reduction