Kira-Lynn has been an activist her whole life and part of the local music scene for nearly as long. In high school she worked the door at shows or sold merch for her friends’ bands. Eventually she began performing herself. Throughout the years she noticed that at these shows, women were often made to feel uncomfortable, whether due to harassment from men or overt sexism that went unchecked. Given her activist roots, Kira-Lynn was immediately drawn to a recently established project aimed at addressing these issues present within Ottawa’s music scene – Project SoundCheck.
Project SoundCheck came to fruition as a result of a 2014 study conducted by the Ottawa Hospital which found that 25% of reported sexual assaults in Ottawa happened at or around a group event. With funding from Crime Prevention Ottawa, Sexual Assault Network Ottawa partnered with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women and created a workshop-based program aimed at preventing sexual assault at festivals, shows and other large gatherings across the city.
Project SoundCheck provides bystander intervention training to staff and volunteers at various festivals and events. Often people witness something that may seem ‘wrong’, but do not know how to respond and properly address the situation. Project SoundCheck teaches ways to safely intervene in a situation that people perceive as being potentially threatening.
Project SoundCheck is off to a great start. So far, they have worked with festivals including Bluesfest and Arboretum and later this year they will be providing training to the CityFolk festival, as well as the Ottawa Burlesque Festival. Kira-Lynn has received a plethora of positive feedback from those who have been a part of the training. The overarching response is that participants wish they had learned these skills earlier.
Moving onward, Project SoundCheck hopes to expand their training to include training for festival-goers and artists themselves. Additionally, they are working to develop more anti-racist education to use in their training.
As Project SoundCheck grows, they hope to involve more festivals in the program. If anyone in Ottawa is planning a festival or any kind of big event and would like to receive training and materials from Project SoundCheck, get in touch! It is FREE for events thanks to the funding from Crime Prevention Ottawa. You can contact them via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.