Julie S. Lalonde on building a consent culture

Internationally recognized women’s rights advocate and public educator Julie S. Lalonde gave two talks at Dawson on Feb. 21, sponsored by the Human Resources department.

At the beginning of her interactive talk entitled “Creating a Consent Culture: Understand the Links between Sexual Violence and Stalking,” Julie said she is attempting to keep a conversation going that will create a different world and she thanked the Dawson community for being part of this conversation. About 80 people attended her talk.

The audience suggested some criteria for consent and Julie expanded on it. Consent means a person must give permission, be informed, give continuous and clear consent. The person who gives consent must be competent (for example, not intoxicated) and free (for example, the other person cannot be in a position of authority over them, like in a teacher/student relationship or an employer-employee relationship).

Julie says that in Canada, the legal definition of consent is “the most progressive” and that Canadians should be proud of it. “However, what we have on paper and in practice is not the same,” she said.

Creating a culture of consent is about way more than consent in a sexual context. “It applies to all human interactions,” she said. “It applies to our bodies and to images of our bodies.”

Julie suggested that parents can help build this consent culture by, for example, always asking permission from anyone before posting or sharing any kind of photo of them publicly. The pandemic offered a beautiful example of practicing consent culture, Julie said. Everyone had to negotiate each individual’s comfort level with being greeted and asked questions about handshakes, hugs, and elbow bumps.

To demonstrate consent, Julie shared a three-minute video produced by Western University entitled Cycling Through Consent.

The second part of her presentation was about stalking, which she said is often “a precursor to homicide.” She shared her personal story of living with a stalking situation for a decade, which only ended because her stalker died.

One thing that can be done to prevent stalking is to teach people, especially boys and young men, how to handle rejection. She also talked about the role of popular culture in portraying unhealthy behaviour and stalking as being romantic.

If you know of someone who is being stalked, you can check in with them and listen to them, remind them it’s not their fault, she said.

“I am alive because of my friends,” she said and suggested that we need to believe each other and stand by friends living in these situations.

For someone who is the victim of stalking, Julie recommends: “documenting everything, locking down social media, moving and changing locks, creating a texting/phoning system with friends, deactivating the location of devices and never checking in on social media.”

Julie has created the Canadian Anti-Stalking Association and a website with resources: https://outsideoftheshadows.ca/

Julie’s book shares her personal story of surviving stalking: Resilience Is Futile: The Life and Death and Life of Julie S. Lalonde


Dawson has a Policy on Sexual Violence

As part of the policy, all students and employees are required to complete training to prevent sexual violence.

Last Modified: February 21, 2024