Since the beginning, we have gathered at Birds Hill Park for the common love of people and music. Every summer we build a community that reflects the way we wish the world would be – a place where we can be unapologetically ourselves, full of inclusivity, kindness, and compassion.
The Winnipeg Folk Festival (WFF) may seem like an escape from reality, and while it is a magical place, you can help keep the Festival vibe alive and your experience positive by acting responsibly and looking out for one another.
What Can You Do?
- Take care of yourself. Drink lots of water, eat well, and dress for the weather.
- The WFF can be an exciting and an overwhelming place – come prepared, relax and have fun.
- Take care of your friends. Use the buddy system. Make sure your group of friends are not left alone when under the influence or at night when everything can look a bit different.
- Practice safer alcohol and other substance use.
- If you see someone who is having a bad experience or is struggling, lend a hand, walk with them until they can get to a safe place, flag down a friendly volunteer in a blue vest or take them to First Aid, where we have access to professional mental health responders.
- Respect other attendees’ privacy, property and personal space. NO inappropriate physical contact, groping, unwelcome sexual advances, or taking of explicit video or photos without consent.
- Practice and promote safe and consensual sex. There’s nothing wrong with a romp in the tent so long as everyone’s aware and having a good time. Make your time together safe and consensual. If you forgot condoms, you can get some free of charge at Campground Central.
- Know that sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, ageist, or otherwise discriminatory language, behaviour or actions are unacceptable.
- Do not engage in disorderly conduct or behaviour that hurts, marginalizes, humiliates, excludes, isolates or disrupts other attendees.
- Do not lead or promote any violent behaviour which includes sexual, verbal or physical assault against another attendee.
- Refrain from wearing or displaying offensive attire, flags or posters. This includes hate symbols and culturally appropriating attire.
What Does Folk Fest Do?
Safety Volunteers (in blue vests): Our Safety volunteers are here to offer a helping hand, a friendly smile and a non-judgmental attitude to any interaction. Their main job is to steward and preserve our Festival culture, using trauma-informed training, community-based de-escalation response, and meeting anyone in crisis with support and care. They can call in our skilled Security Folk volunteers and other resources, as necessary.
Security Folk Volunteers (in blue vests): This team of dedicated volunteers from our own Festival community provides high-quality support, responding to incidents that require a higher level of training in a folky manner. All members are licensed Security Guards and graduates of the WFF’s internal Festival Security Program. They have 120+ hours of training including areas in safer spaces, anti-oppression, violence, harassment and abuse prevention, consent culture, harm reduction, effective communication, and Psychological First Aid.
Wellness Supports: There are mental health professionals available as part of our coordinated response team to provide Psychological First Aid. They can support people in crisis and assist individuals at the Festival in accessing additional off-site care outside of the Festival. Safety volunteers (in blue vests) will coordinate access to this care.
When in need find a volunteer in a blue vest or visit First Aid.
- Free Condoms are available at Campground Central.
- All security & First Aid teams carry a naloxone kit with them at all times; in cases of opioid overdoses this essential resource is readily available.
- Our friends at Fiddlers Green will host a space in the Festival Campground for dialogue and conversation around harm reduction.
Remember: Volunteers are here to help! When in need, seek a volunteer in a blue vest or resources to help you stay safe. Any report of racism, discrimination, harassment, violence, sexual harassment, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, etc. will be dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible.
Safer Spaces Policy
We believe EVERYONE has the right to experience the Winnipeg Folk Festival (WFF) as a safe place where they are welcome and respected.
As an organization, we encourage creativity, freedom of expression and attire, and respectful discussion, but not at the harm of others - regardless of attendees’ intentions.
We believe that every individual, no matter their gender, ability, age, ethnicity and sexuality should feel safe and comfortable in our environment and free from any negativity or harm due to others’ display of symbols, actions or words. Any form of discrimination, harassment, sexual violence and/or assault, disorderly conduct or any behaviour verbal or physical that demeans or marginalizes another will not be tolerated.
It is also important to remember that the WFF and its campgrounds are subject to provincial and federal laws. Please respect the valuable work that law enforcement officers and our own Safety and Security Folk volunteers in blue vests do to keep everyone in our Folk Fest community safe.
When you join us at the WFF, our Festival Campground and/or Quiet Campground, you agree to the safer spaces policy. Let’s support each other and ensure our community continues to be one of inclusiveness and respect!
Reporting an Issue
We believe in and support people who have experienced harassment, violence, or discrimination. If you feel someone is signaling or behaving in a disrespectful manner or is negatively affecting your or another’s Festival experience, please bring your concerns to a Safety or Security volunteer in a blue vest as soon as possible so that we can address them in a timely manner.
Individuals who have experienced or witnessed an act of violence at the WFF should do one or all of the following:
- Find a Safety or Security Volunteer (in a blue vest) - For help in the moment, inform a Safety volunteer of the incident as soon as possible; they can provide support and connect you directly with wellness supports or additional resources as needed.
- Get First Aid - Seek any necessary medical attention at Site or Campground First Aid.
As always, in an emergency or in immediate danger, call 911.
- Submit a Written Report - To provide a written report of an incident, submit through the forms linked below. Please note that this will not result in an immediate response but will be addressed in due course.
You have TWO options:
Violation of the Safer Spaces Policy
The WFF takes the reporting of incidents of violence, harassment and abuse very seriously. Anyone found to have violated the Safer Spaces policy during their engagement with the Festival will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the site or event.
For more information, a complete version of the WFF’s Violence, Harassment and Abuse Policy.
Support & Resources
Should you experience an incident and need an extra bit of support during or after the Festival there are several resources available to you:
Urgent or Emergency Call 9-1-1