250 News - Your News, Your Views, Now

October 27, 2017 8:40 pm

Be More than a Bystander

Thursday, October 20, 2016 @ 12:04 PM

jrPrince George, BC –  The  Healing through Learning Conference in Prince George , which has  gathered together  front line  responders, victim services, social workers, counsellors  and court services, has  taken some  tips on how to be more than bystander and to prevent violence against women and girls.

(at right, JR  LaRose addresses conference )

B.C. Lions J.R. La Rose (retired)  shared  his life story.  His mother was Cree and  a victim of the Residential  School system  where she was  psychologically and  sexually abused.    His mother turned to drugs and alcohol to “numb the pain”  and became   ” a full blown drug addict”.

LaRose  himself would  become a victim of sexual abuse.   “I became a very angry young man,  I would unleash my aggression on the playground.”   He was directed  by a school principal to channel his aggression in sport,  perhaps football “I said,  you mean to tell me, I can run full speed  at  somebody, try to take their head off and won’t end up in your office?  And  he said  yes,  so I was like ‘where do I sign up?”  He says being  on the team was the first  time he felt a family atmosphere.  “I know it sounds  so cliché when people say sports  saved their lives, but football literally saved my life, football gave me hope,  gave me something to be passionate about.”

He says when the  BC Lions were approached to be part of the Be More than a Bystander  program, he knew  he had to be involved “I knew there were kids who had gone through what I went through, if I could raise  some hope,  I knew this was a program I needed to be a part of.”  He says the program has helped him become a better man, a better father, a better husband  and allows him to  be a voice for those who don’t speak up.

He presented a number of scenarios,  each depicting a situation  in which a women is vulnerable  and  could  possibly  fall victim to  the actions of  another.  “A lot of times people don’t want to get involved because they are   afraid for their  own safety”  said La Rose.

La Rose  called on the  delegates to the three day conference  to offer their suggestions on  how  to  protect the vulnerable women depicted in the scenarios. The suggestions  included  physically  placing yourself between the  vulnerable and the  threat, taking  a photo  with  your cell phone,  asking  the threat to leave, all  simple  solutions.

“It’s not a super hero approach to making change” says LaRose ,  “As a father, it’s my job  to  teach my two young boys that it’s not ok to  continue to objectify women.”  He says the  Be More than A Bystander  program  is shared with  young men, and  looks  at some  of the  influences in  the lives of youth, including  the  music  the young men listen too, which all too often  objectifies women.  He says  the youth look up to the  football players, “And they want to be like  us, so once  you make it cool to stand up for the right thing, that’s when you make a change.”


My mother had a hard time growing up on the farm, and growing up in PG in the 50’s. She was at Sacred Heart, where the nuns treated everyone equally as badly. They beat kids, they were mean, they were bullies… We aren’t allowed to bring this up, because she isn’t native.

Congratulations, J.R. La Rose, by your story, hopefully others will come forward and talk about the abuse they suffered in residential schools,and by others who were trusted and breached that huge trust.Because people who have never been abused don’t get it, they say get over it and get on with life. They have no understanding. One of the hardest things for abused people to do.
Yes they turn to alcohol and drugs to forget the pain, I understand that.
Then there’s the case of a guy out in Saskatoon, running for a position on the Catholic School Board who is a convicted and pardoned sex offender, and the Catholic Diocese saying this is not a good person to have as a candidate. How bout the Catholic church reporting to police all their priests who have sexually assaulted all the kids in residential schools, then maybe the healing will begin. Read a book by Mary John, Stony Creek Woman, there may be some understanding by all those who have not been abused.

Comments for this article are closed.