Mother calls for safety changes following Nanaimo Aquatic Centre incident

Mother calls for safety changes following Nanaimo Aquatic Centre incident

A mother who witnessed what she called a disturbing incident at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre earlier this month says she wants to look for a solution for change room safety.

Janayh Wright and a group of more than 30 people gathered at Maffeo Sutton Park Sunday.

“I want to create some change and safety for children so what I’m hoping today is that people will sign the petition. I’m hoping to get a make-me-safe liason outside all the vulnerable spaces so that if somebody does have an issue with peoples’ behaviour within that changeroom or facility that they will have someone they can go to,” said Wright.

Wright organized this event after a disturbing incident on Feb. 3 that occurred in the women’s change rooms of the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.

She says she witnessed a person who was walking around wearing a wig and mask without a bag, towel or swimsuit. The person allegedly then went into a stall close to the one her nine-year-old daughter was changing in.

“I saw the wig peer down and they were trying to peek underneath the stall,” said Wright, in an interview on February 5th.

“When the individual came out of the room still fully clothed I then approached them. They told me it was in their human rights to be in the changeroom and that they weren’t going to leave. There were a few words exchanged and I ushered them out the door.”

She said she then filed a complaint to the pool staff and police.

In a statement released days after the City of Nanaimo said there had been “two reported incidents in the last two weeks, regarding the activities of a transgendered individual in the women’s change room.”

At the park Sunday, Wright said more training, education and action is needed so these issues can be dealt with, without the trans community being targeted.

“There are predators out there that are appropriating transgender identity and gaining access to kids and we need staff to be trained to know how to deal with these predators,” she said. “This isn’t fair to the transgender community either, because now they’re being targeted and that’s not fair, so we need to come up with a solution for safety.”

A number of young people also showed up Sunday, saying they were worried the gathering would be an attack on the trans community. But after a conversation with Wright, they felt much better.

“We all have the same point. We all came at it from a different lens but after the conversation, I’m glad that we realized that at the core it’s the same,” said Kieran Freeman.

Wright says she feels passionate about the issue because she worries what might have happened had she not been with her daughter that day.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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