Safer Spaces & Inclusion



Sled Island acknowledges Calgary as the traditional territory of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Ĩyãħé Nakoda First Nations, including the Chiniki, Bearspaw and Goodstoney First Nations. Calgary is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta (Districts 5 and 6).


This acknowledgment is proudly included on, in the Sled Island program guide, as well as on venue signage whenever possible. That being said, we recognize that land acknowledgments are only a very small step towards reconciliation and decolonization. We encourage everyone to educate themselves on Indigenous history, support the work of local and national Indigenous-led organizations and initiatives, and develop and maintain right relations with local Indigenous communities.


We strive to create a festival environment where all, and in particular marginalized communities, can feel safe and at ease while being their most authentic selves.


Everyone has the right to feel safe and included at Sled Island regardless of age, ancestry, colour, family status, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, mental disability, physical disability, place of origin, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, source of income or any other protected ground (Canadian and Alberta Human Rights Acts).


To this end, we have developed a policy to help foster safer and more inclusive spaces at festival events. This policy will be communicated to all artists, volunteers, staff, and attendees of paid events prior to the festival. Additionally, key safer spaces information including protocols and hotline numbers will be posted in all Sled Island venues. 


This document will be updated on an ongoing basis to ensure it meets the needs of our community. If you have questions or comments, please get in touch with us at



Participant: Any Sled Island staff, board member, volunteer, performing artist, partner, and supplier working at the festival or any other event produced by Sled Island.


Attendee: Member of the audience attending Sled Island events.


Consent: A voluntary, ongoing, active, and conscious agreement to engage in an activity. Consent or a “yes” that is obtained through pressure, coercion, force, threats, or by inducing intoxication, impairment, or incapacity is not voluntary consent. Silence or ambiguity do not constitute consent. Additionally, there is no consent when:

  • it is given by someone else.
  • the person is unconscious, sleeping, or lacks the capacity to consent.
  • it was obtained through the abuse of a position of power, trust, or authority.
  • the person does not indicate “yes,” says “no,” or implies “no” through words or behaviours.
  • the person changes their mind and withdraws their consent.

It is the responsibility of all parties wanting to engage in an activity to obtain clear consent from the other, and to recognize that consent can be withdrawn at any time.


Canada has an affirmative standard of consent. Consent is not the absence of a no, it is the presence of a freely given, active, clear-minded, and ongoing yes.

Physical abuse: Generally involves physical contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm (Government of Canada, para 4., 2023)

Sexual abuse: Generally encompasses any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain participation in non-consensual sexual activity or coercing a person to engage in sexual activity against their will (Government of Canada, para 5., 2023)


Discrimination: Discrimination is an action or a decision that treats a person or a group badly based on the identities they hold. These identities include age, ancestry, colour, family status, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, mental disability, physical disability, place of origin, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, source of income. Also called grounds, these identities are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Alberta Human Rights Act (Canadian Human Rights Commission, para 1., 2023).


Harassment: Harassment is a form of discrimination. It includes any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates you. Generally, harassment is a behaviour that persists over time. Serious one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment (Canadian Human Rights Commission).


Conduct or comment, either one time or repeating, that constitutes harassment:

  • is demeaning, intimidating, threatening, or abusive.
  • is not trivial or fleeting in nature.
  • causes offense and should have reasonably been expected to offend.
  • serves no legitimate purpose for the environment.
  • is a reprisal or threat of reprisal against an individual for ejecting a solicitation or advance.
  • undermines authority or respect in the environment, limits opportunities for advancement, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

Harassment includes conduct or comments, or the creation of a negative psychological and/or emotional environment that humiliates, excludes, or isolates an individual or group by focusing on their race, colour, place of origin, gender, age, marital status, religious beliefs, citizenship, mental and physical abilities, sexual orientation, or any other prohibited grounds within the Alberta Human Rights Act.


Harassment also includes bullying, which is a form of aggression that may include physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. It can include persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behavior, abuse of power, and/or unfair sanctions which make the individual feel threatened, humiliated, and/or vulnerable.

Disclosure: Making a disclosure means reporting an incident that you have experienced or witnessed, and that you wish Sled Island to know about, but without asking for a follow-up or any action to be taken.


Complaint: Making a complaint means reporting an incident of abuse, harassment, or misconduct that you have experienced or witnessed, and wish for further action to be taken. 


Retaliation: Taking, attempting to take, or threatening to take any adverse action or retribution of any kind against anyone coming forward to report harassment, abuse, or misconduct process. This includes, but is not limited to, intimidation, pressuring, harassment made in person, electronically, or through third parties. 



Sled Island is committed to creating venues and experiences that are free of abusive and discriminatory behaviours that pose a direct threat to the physical or psychological safety of attendees and participants. We strive to create an environment where everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender expression, age, ability or religious belief is treated with respect and care, and can enjoy their time at Sled Island while being their true selves. 


Creating Safer Spaces requires collective commitment, participation, and accountability, and we ask all participants and attendees to treat others with kindness and care, and to notify us of any behaviour that violates this Code of Conduct at Sled Island events (see How to Report an Incident for more details).


The following will not be tolerated at any Sled Island event:

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Sexual abuse or misconduct of any kind
  • Physical assault or any form of violence
  • Bullying
  • Wearing offensive or culturally insensitive attire (ex: displaying hate symbols such as a swastika or thin blue line symbols, or wearing a culturally significant outfit from a culture that is not yours)


As a Sled Island participant or attendee, we ask you to:

  • Respect the right of other attendees and participants to enjoy their experience;
  • Respect others’ physical and emotional boundaries;
  • Respect people’s chosen pronouns, regardless of their gender expression (when in doubt, offer your own pronouns to create the opportunity for a person to share theirs or use the person’s name instead of using any pronouns);
  • Be mindful of how your own privileges and behaviours impact the experience of others (take care of each other)


Here are some examples (but not an exhaustive list) of behaviours that will not be tolerated:

  • Unwelcome sexual or discriminatory comments, jokes, or attention
  • Unwanted physical touch
  • Misgendering someone on purpose, after being informed or corrected on their chosen pronouns
  • Policing which bathroom an individual chooses to use
  • Using racist, derogatory words or any other abusive or hateful language or gestures
  • Sustained and/or willful disruption of events (excessive and loud talking during quiet performances, heckling of performing artists, being dismissive of others’ safety in the crowd




Sled Island understands that oftentimes cases of assault and abuse can be dismissed, and it can be very difficult to come forward. Please know that we take these claims very seriously, and are here to listen. We will handle every situation to the best of our abilities.


If you witness a violation of the Sled Island Code of Conduct at any festival event, please speak with a volunteer venue manager (ask any Sled Island volunteer for assistance finding the venue manager). Notifying the Sled Island venue manager ensures that senior management is notified and that the incident can be followed up on.


All Sled Island staff and venue managers undergo mandatory annual Community Bystander Training provided by the Centre for Sexuality and are equipped to provide interventions that center the person(s) experiencing the abusive or discriminatory behaviours, but please do not hesitate to reach out to any Sled Island volunteer, security, or venue staff if you require immediate assistance. 


All Sled Island venues are actively encouraged to undergo this same training with their staff and are made aware of this policy and agree to abide by it during the festival.


If you would like to report an incident after the fact, you can contact our senior management team at This inbox is only accessible to Sled Island’s four senior management and permanent employees and any disclosure or report will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.


Please note that messages sent to Sled Island through social media during the festival can be easily missed and do not guarantee confidentiality or a timely response. For this reason, please email to ensure your concerns are properly recorded and addressed.


While we understand and respect the wish for anonymity of individuals fearing retaliation, we cannot commit to properly addressing an issue in the case of anonymous disclosures and complaints. We will never disclose the identity of a person sharing their concerns with us without their consent and will always ask for permission to involve outside help if we feel like the issue is beyond our professional expertise.


Please note: We are a very small staff and do not have the human resources to guarantee an immediate response to concerns that do not represent an imminent threat to attendees' and participants' safety in the days leading to and during the festival. Regardless of timing, we take incidents of abuse and discrimination seriously and will address all concerns as efficiently as possible.


Whenever possible, Sled Island venues will offer safe room access upon request. To access a safe room, please speak with a Sled Island volunteer venue manager (ask any Sled Island volunteer for assistance finding the volunteer venue manager). Safe walks to a second festival location or support while waiting for public or other transportation are also available upon request.

For security reasons, the Sled Island volunteer venue manager will be present in the safe room until next steps are determined (if any, and only if desired by the person who experienced abuse and/or discrimination while at Sled Island). In the event that the volunteer venue manager is male, he will offer that a female or non-binary volunteer or venue staff member be present in his place if desired (no questions asked). Please note that we cannot guarantee whether non-venue manager volunteers and venue staff have completed Community Bystander Training or any other similar training.

If you require urgent medical attention or psychological support, the Sled Island venue manager or any Sled Island staff can connect you with available resources specialized in crisis response, such as

  • Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, 403-237-5888
  • Distress Centre Calgary’s 24-hour Crisis Line, 403-266-4357

More Resources are available below under Available Support and Educational Resources.



Sled Island reserves the right to take any action deemed necessary and appropriate with individuals violating this code of conduct, which may include issuing a warning to the offender, asking them to leave the premises or have them removed, rescinding their passholder privileges, or calling the authorities if absolutely necessary. Moreover, our course of action will always take into consideration the wishes of the person(s) harmed or impacted, within reason.

When applicable, attendees or participants who have had their passholder privileges rescinded or who have been permanently banned from Sled Island events will be given contact information to access educational resources. As the safety of our attendees and participants is our primary concern, any steps taken have no bearing on whether individuals who have had their passholder privileges rescinded or who have been permanently banned will be permitted to attend Sled Island in the future.

Second chances may be offered on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of Sled Island staff.



If you would like to share concerns with us regarding the presence of a specific artist, volunteer, staff member, or attendee at an upcoming event, you can contact the Sled Island senior management team at


Based on the information made available to us, we will do our best to determine whether the potential presence of the person who is the object of the report represents a threat to our attendees’ and participants’ safety at the upcoming event, and act accordingly. All programming decisions are made in consideration of these concerns using the fullest extent of our knowledge.


While we understand and respect the wish for anonymity of individuals fearing retaliation, we cannot commit to properly addressing an issue in the case of anonymous reports. We will never disclose the identity of a person sharing their concerns with us without their consent and will always ask for permission to request outside help if we feel like the issue is beyond our professional expertise.


Please note, as festival organizers, we do not have the expertise or authority to mediate conflicts or provide psychological support or advice. We will do our best, however, to direct you to locally available resources and encourage you to consult our Available Support and Resources section.



We understand that levels of comfort and safety in a specific venue will vary from one person to the next. In an effort to ease anxieties related to accessibility, entry/security protocols, and washroom availability (among others), we strive to provide as much information as possible about Sled Island venues. You can find detailed information here.


While some of the venues used by Sled Island do not have purposefully built gender-neutral washrooms, during our events, signage will be put up on all venue washrooms to indicate that anyone may use them, along with a description of the washroom amenities (single-stalls, urinals). Gender policing will not be tolerated at any Sled Island event.



Please note, in addition to the information included below we are currently working on securing educational resources to make available at the festival.


Sled Island does not condone the use of illegal substances, but we believe that harm reduction is a vital component of any community's opioid overdose prevention approach.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their relationship with substances, you can contact the Addiction Helpline at 1 (866) 332-2322 (support available 24/7). Call 911 if you suspect an overdose.

As part of Alberta’s opioid crisis response, Naloxone kits are available for free and without a prescription at more than 900 sites across Alberta. Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose, including fentanyl. For more information and Naloxone kit distribution locations, visit Information about Naloxone kits at venues can be found on our Venue page.


Water at Venues

All Sled Island venues offer tap water for free. Look for water fountains or pitchers usually available at the bar. Don’t forget to hydrate regularly during the festival, in particular when consuming alcohol or other substances.


Recognizing the signs


Signs of Opioid Poisoning:

  • Slow or no breathing
  • Unresponsive
  • Pale face / blue lips or nails
  • Stiff body/seizure-like movement

What To Do:

  • Call 911 
  • Speak loudly
  • Rub fist hard on middle of chest
  • If not breathing, start rescue breathing and if still not breathing, administer naloxone
  • If breathing, roll them onto side using their hand to support their head and wait for help to arrive
  • Do not leave them alone

For more information, visit


Signs of a Bad Trip (psychedelics like mushrooms or LSD, heavy cannabis use, etc):

  • Having hallucinations
  • Intensified sensory experiences
  • Changes in awareness of time
  • Paranoia and panic

What To Do:

  • Make sure the person is in a safe place to calm them down
  • Explain to them why they are feeling the way they do
  • Stay with the person during the trip
  • Seek help if needed from a Sled Island staff or volunteer, venue security or venue staff
  •  If the person become a danger to themselves or others or have physical symptoms like a fever, call 911

For more information, visit



Sexual Assault and Crisis Intervention

  • Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, 403–237–5888 (9am-9pm) Their trained staff will respond to your needs, which could include dispatching experts or connecting you with other resources if desired.
  • Alberta’s One Line For Sexual Violence, 1-866-403-8000 (9am-9pm). Calls made after 9pm will be forwarded to the Distress Centre Calgary’s 24-hour crisis line.
  • Distress Centre Calgary’s 24-hour Crisis Line, 403-266-4357 (text or call)


General Health & Social Services

  • 211 - An essential service that helps Albertans find the right resource or service for whatever issue they need help with, at the right time. 211 is available 24/7 by phone, text and chat. The service is free, confidential and available in over 170 languages over the phone.
  • 811 - A telephone service, which provides free 24 / 7 nurse advice and general health information for Albertans.


Mental Health and Addiction


Designated Driver Services


Educational Resources



We want to thank the Centre for Sexuality for their help in developing this new iteration of our Safer Spaces & Inclusion policy. We also want to thank the Edmonton Fringe Festival for generously sharing their resources with us. Some of the definitions and wording used in this policy were borrowed from or inspired by these resources.