Bc Lions defensive back, Matt Bucknor takes question from his young audience during presentation of the Lions’ Be More Than A Bystander program, aimed at ending the silence on violence against women, at Vernon Secondary School on April 17. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

B.C. Lions urge high school students to make a difference

Johnson, Bucknor urge students to be More than a Bystander when it comes to violence against women

As a runningback with the B.C. Lions, Jeremiah Johnson runs through and over 300-pound linebackers trying to knock him out with extreme force. Every play contains a touch of controlled violence and ends up a train wreck if you will.

As a speaker with the Lions’ Be More Than A Bystander program, Johnson urges young people to break the silence on violence against women. He finds that topic much tougher than avoiding tackles on the football field.

He opened the 45-minute presentation Tuesday morning at Vernon Secondary School by quietly revealing how his wife, Shanel, was a victim of rape by one of her family members.

“I get emotional and about this because it’s near and dear to my heart,” he said.

“I told my wife I would get nervous talking about this, but she said ‘I think you should do it.’ Her well-being is at the top of my list. If I reach one person in this audience, I’ve done my job. We’re not here to demonize you guys but the stats show that males are the main cause of these heinous crimes against women.”

Johnson, 31, is a marquee running back with the Canadian Football League team. The Oregon Ducks grad and Los Angeles product rang up a dozen touchdowns last season, including nine rushing scores on 913 yards. He has a young daughter, Jordan, and is more interested and troubled by the stats off the field.

Those stats show that one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. The 15-24 age group lists the highest number of assaults.

Johnson and defensive back Matt Bucknor told students that violence against women can include dating wrongs, touching without consent, stalking, cyber bullying, catcalls, inappropriate or cruel jokes and texting. Any situation whereby the woman feels uncomfortable can be sexual harassment.

“We know you aren’t doing this, but maybe someone you know is,” said Johnson, “We want to give you a platform where you can say, ‘I learned something and what you’re doing is not right.’”

Johnson stressed how touching a female without consent is harassment.

“Consent is ongoing and it can be withdrawn at any time. Consent is not valid if the person is drunk, on drugs or unconscious. If that happens, the male should exit stage left. Being drunk is a not a defence.”

Tyler Gammon of the Lions Community Relations department showed some public service announcements and TV clips on the issue. He showed a light-hearted message featuring stick figures offering a cup of tea as a analogy to asking a female for sex.

“Unconscious people don’t want tea,” said the announcer, bringing light laughter from the students.

Students saw Lions head coach Wally Buono break down and cry as he spoke of having to deal with a violent incident on his mother’s behalf.

“Who here has three women they love in their lives?” asked Bucknor.

Most students raised their hands and Bucknor said he thinks about his mom, sister and two nieces when discussing the tough topic.

“We can do something about it,” said Bucknor, a 32-year-old out of Hamilton. “There are 1,000 assaults every week. We have to stand with women, not against them.”

The University of Windsor Lancers grad said it takes courage and smart decisions to help end the violence. He noted that 800,000 children in Canada witness violence against a woman.

“That’s a big number and they think it’s OK as they grow up.”

Bucknor also noted there are 1,100 Indigenous women in B.C. either missing or murdered and that 83 per cent of women living with disabilities have been victims of violence.

He said a bystander is a person who sees or knows someone who is acting abusively and doesn’t do anything. He noted that attitudes that women can’t be CEOs or presidents, but belong in the kitchen, only fuel the violence.

Grade 10 student Lexie Pearson, wearing an Oregon hoodie much to Johnson’s delight, joined the two Lions in a demonstration on what constitutes inappropriate touching.

The Lions urged students who know a male behaving in ways demeaning women to approach them and refer them to professionals for counselling.

Bucknor said the notion that “Oh, she deserved it because she was wearing a certain outfit” is way off base. He noted that just because a bank has zillions of dollars doesn’t mean it deserves to get robbed.

Be More Than A Bystander is one of five programs the Lions run as they seek to touch the lives of B.C. communities in a positive way. The Lions have won the Grey Cup six times, the last coming in 2011.


@VernonNews
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Vernon Secondary School students, Ryan Ponipal and Kate Holbrook, who are in Grade 10 and 9, respectively, were two of many students who lined up to shake hands with, or get their photo taken with visiting BC Lions team members, Matt Bucknor and Jeremiah Johnson following the Lions’ Be More Than a Bystander presentation Tuesday morning. From left, Ryan Ponipal, Jeremiah Johnson, Kate Holbrook and Matt Bucknor. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

BC Lions running back, Jeremiah Johnson explains what it means, and doesn’t mean, when a person gives sexual consent, during presentation of the Lions’ Be More Than A Bystander program, aimed at ending the silence on violence against women, at Vernon Secondary School on April 17. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

Just Posted

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a Langley-based campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Aldergrove sees Centurion tank, tears, and war veterans march

An estimated 2,500 people paid their respects at the Aldergrove cenotaph on Nov. 11

Aldergrove eagles soar like planes in the Remembrance Day sky

Jim Sclater of Aldergrove penned his second poem in remembrance of Canada’s soldiers and veterans

Artists go incognito for new exhibition

Langley Arts Council display anonymous artwork up for sale at Township Civic Facility.

Suspect in Langley child’s murder appears in court

Kerryann Lewis is awaiting trial for first degree murder

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Bargaining to resume in Metro Vancouver transit strike as bus driver overtime ban looms

Both sides might be headed back to the table to prevent new overtime ban

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Cherry denies he was singling out visible minorities with his comments

B.C. teacher suspended for incessantly messaging student, writing friendship letter

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

Disney Plus streaming service hits Canada with tech hurdles

Service costs $8.99 per month, or $89.99 per year, in Canada

Most Read