Sixteen men from the community spent the night outdoors in downtown Moose Jaw Friday night (Nov. 24) in support of the Moose Jaw Transition House. Two board members also joined the cause.
The group braved sub-zero temperatures as the mercury dipped to minus six, feeling like minus 13 with the wind chill.
"It was a good night. We all stayed warm. A few people got a little bit of sleep, some got no sleep but overall a great success for the Transition House.," said board member Jared Mathieson. "It's a great experience and it's just a great cause. It's one night. Saturday is going to be tough for a lot of people. A couple of guys have hockey practice, they have to go coach. A couple of people have to work, that's all part of it."
This year marked the third year for the Men's Night Out "In The Cold" event. Over $39,000 has been raised so far this year, with that amount expected to grow over the next few days. Over $30,000 was raised in year one, with participants bringing in over $50,000 last year. The Moose Jaw Transition House provides a warm and safe home for women and children fleeing violence.
"It just speaks to the Moose Jaw community," noted Travis Olson, who was taking part for the first time. "The great people that are willing to come together for a great cause and try to make a difference. Good guys out for a good cause."
Participants gathered at the empty downtown parking lot around 10 p.m., where a couple of fires were set up and burnt throughout the night. Each participant had a lawn chair and was dressed in warm gear with blankets and sleeping bags in tow. The conversation lasted throughout the night, with some of the men getting a few hours of shut eye. Mayor Clive Tolley came by to provide some words of support around midnight, with other supporters also stopping by throughout the night. Things wrapped up around 6 a.m.
"It's really good to see everybody pull together like this," said city councillor and participant Jamey Logan. "One of us can't raise a bunch of money, but when you pull 16 people plus the board members, we can raise a lot of money and do really good things with it. You look around the room here and there's some business folks and just regular working people. It's nice to pull everybody together."
The Men's Night Out "In The Cold" has turned into the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Transition House.
"So much of what we do is grant funded or through donations, especially capital expenses," explained executive director Jenn Angus. "Any improvements we need to make to the shelter, and our shelter is quite old and it always has things breaking down. The other part of it is we need office space and that is also fundraised money. Our core programming is funded but all of our extra programs require fundraising."
In addition to the money raised, Angus says the awareness that the men create is also vitally important.
"These men acting as role models for other boys, for other men, for just people in our community to see that, with Saskatchewan having the highest rate of domestic violence, that there's so many men that are standing up and saying this isn't acceptable, and we don't condone this and that women's equality is important."
Nov. 25 is the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. It begins with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on Dec. 10 with Human Rights Day. Since 1991, men have worn white ribbons on Nov. 25 as a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination.
"We are able to see people all throughout the city wearing white ribbons," added Angus. "The awareness that this campaign has created in our city is huge for not just women but for men and boys, for people of all genders to understand that violence isn't acceptable."
Firefighter Paul Busse participated in the event in year one and was back again this year.
"It's a pleasure to be a part of this," he remarked. "The money raised from all the volunteers down here is just truly phenomenal. Everybody came together. Close to $40,000 this evening. It's unbelievable to see that much funds coming in. Just honoured to be a part of that and help out however I can."
Busse noted the event was a chance for the group of men to share stories and build relationships while supporting a great cause.
"Some good camaraderie. It's a great group of people down here. Lots of good stories and just some fellowship for sure. That's what the night's all about."
Podcaster Les Chelle was taking part for the first time. He did a podcast earlier this year and featured a guest from the Transition House.
"A lot of the statistics really hit home with me," he noted. " I want to be more proactive. When I got asked to be part of it, it was a no-brainer."
The Moose Jaw Transition House supports about 100 women and children through the shelter every year. The average length of stay is 21 days that someone will stay at the shelter before they move into their own home. Transition House supports over 1,000 people every year, through all of their programs and outreach. They had over 500 calls to their crisis line last year alone.
"They have a phenomenal place," added Chelle. "It's for women and children that need to go places when they've got nothing else. I think it's good for the group of men here and men, in general, to get out and use their voice and tell everyone it's not ok and be an ally and help people."
Each of the 16 men had a goal of raising $500 towards the cause.
"It was a really great night," concluded board member Geoff Anderson. "Sixteen men that are trying to show awareness for the White Ribbon Campaign. Sixteen guys for sixteen days of activism to end interpersonal violence and the women and children that have to flee their homes and live outside. It's for a really good cause and I want to really thank the employees, Jenn Angus and the board of directors for all that they do to try everything possible to keep our community safe."
You can still support the Moose Jaw Transition House by CLICKING HERE.
White Ribbon 2023 – Men’s Night Out in the Cold participants
1. Ira Dales – Ifrix Solutions (Year 3)
2. Joel Pinel – Vize Labs (Year 3)
3. Brett Williams – Cypress Paving (Year 3)
4. Kyle Sereda – Medavie Health Services West (Year 3)
5. John Iatridis – The Mad Greek (Year 3)
6. Paul Busse – Moose Jaw Firefighter (Year 2)
7. Alex Carelton – Crushed Can (Year 2)
8. Eric Campbell – Lindale Principal (Year 2)
9. Jamey Logan – Strictly Fences (Year 2)
10. Travis Olson – Royal Bank (Year 1)
11. Eric Kempe – PTW (Year 1)
12. Chris Olfert – JGL ( Year 1)
13. Les Chelle – K+S (Year 1)
14. Kenric Phillips – Regal Electric (Year 1)
15. Cory Knutt- Golden West Broadcasting (Year 1)
16. Dan Chalupiak – Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Year 1)
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