B.C. premier sheds personal silence to help fight sexual violence with law

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has revealed an intensely personal story behind a new law enacted to prevent sexual violence and misconduct at post-secondary institutions.

VANCOUVER — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark has revealed an intensely personal story behind a new law enacted to prevent sexual violence and misconduct at post-secondary institutions.

Clark said in an op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun on Thursday that for 35 years she’d kept silent about being attacked at age 13 by an unknown man who tried to pull her into some bushes.

She said she managed to get away and “ran like the wind.”

Clark said she has always wondered if, due to her silence, the man continued his behaviour and caught a girl who could not get away.

“I wish I’d had the courage to say something then. I do now,” she said in the op-ed.

The province’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act was passed in May. The law was proposed by Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver as a private member’s bill, but Clark stood in the legislature and announced her government would support it.

The bill requires post-secondary institutions to implement stand-alone policies to respond to sexual violence. It will come into effect one year after royal assent, in order to give institutions time to create and establish policies with input from students.

“I knew it was the right thing to do,” Clark said in the op-ed. “It speaks to the large number of women and men who stay silent about their experiences. For over 35 years, I’ve been one of them.”

Clark said even though she didn’t have the courage to speak about assault at the age of 13, she does now.

“I remember all of the sexual advances from strangers: getting flashed, groped, spied on.”

Since coming forward with her own experience, she said almost every female colleague and friend has shared a similar tale, and none had spoken up.

“I want women who have never said anything about sexual violence in their lives to know they are not alone,” Clark said, while urging institutions where women live, work and study to understand the breadth of the problem.

Her op-ed drew support from B.C.’s independent children’s representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.

“I am extremely proud of the premier for acknowledging in public her own experience,” she said. “This is difficult and personal and she found her voice now to speak out. This tells me that even in high office there’s pressure to keep quite, forget or just frankly pretend all is fine, when it’s not.”

Turpel-Lafond said her work with B.C.’s vulnerable children reveals children and families require strong supports, safety and police protection. She said this year’s byelection of New Democrat Melanie Mark, who has spoken publicly of the abuse she has suffered, opened public channels about such issues across the province.

New Democrat Kathy Corrigan recounted a terrifying abuse incident in her teenage years during debate of the government’s sexual violence law.

Clark said the issue of sexual violence needs more voices.

“Let’s build a community where women and men who have dealt with sexual violence can feel safe and comfortable talking about it,” she said. “Let’s get to work on addressing it.”

Ontario was the first province in Canada to adopt similar legislation earlier this year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) makes the save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman (11) as Tyson Barrie (22) defends during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Toronto continues to lead the North Division standings, but hard-charging Edmonton is now just four points back on the all-Canadian circuit heading into a three-game series between the teams in Alberta's capital beginning Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Angela James stands on centre ice in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs team after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame before Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday November 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talks to center Aron Baynes (46) and guard Norman Powell (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Team Ontario skip Rachel Homan, centre, makes a shot against Team Wild Card 1 as second Sarah Wilkes, left, and lead Joanne Courtney sweep at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Ontario's Rachel Homan kicked off play in the championship pool Friday with a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey of Team Wild Card One at the Canadian women's curling playdowns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

A nurse prepares to give the first COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in Edmonton on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctors urge Alberta to hold off on easing COVID-19 restrictions next week

Doctors urge Alberta to hold off on easing COVID-19 restrictions next week

Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a press conference in Calgary on Oct. 7, 2020. The Alberta government and its 11,000 physicians have taken a first step toward resolving an ugly, fractious year-long dispute over fees and working conditions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta and its physicians move to end ugly feud over fees with new tentative deal

Alberta and its physicians move to end ugly feud over fees with new tentative deal

Most Read