QWF Policy for Safer Spaces and Events

1. Policy Background and Statement

Committee Mandate

The mandate of the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s (QWF) Shared Spaces Committee is to develop, implement, and review policies and processes designed to make QWF-organized events and activities safer and more inclusive for everyone.


The Quebec Writers’ Federation has already established policies addressing events and activities that take place in professional spaces (Guidelines for QWF Workshop Participants and Workshop Leaders, QWF Conflict Resolution Process, and QWF Policy on the Prevention of Psychological or Sexual Harassment at Work).

Following concerns from the community about interactions between QWF’s members at social and networking events, the Shared Spaces Committee (previously the Safer Spaces Committee) was formed to initiate a policy to cover these situations.

QWF is responsible for all the spaces and events that it organizes. No participant at a QWF event should be made to feel physically or psychologically unsafe, intimidated, or harassed.

The QWF needed to cast a critical eye over how we held the spaces in which our diverse community comes together, beyond the professional environment of workshops, mentorships, residencies, and so forth. QWF occasionally invites members—and potential members—of its community to share a common informal space together, and therefore is responsible for creating an environment in which all of those coming together feel comfortable, and in which expected standards of conduct and mutual relationship/engagement are explicit from the start.


QWF is dedicated to providing a safer and more inclusive environment for everyone. Any behaviour constituting predation, harassment, or hateful behaviour may result in expulsion from the event or activity in question, expulsion from future QWF events and activities, as well as other appropriate responses. All incidents and reports of such behaviour will then be handled in accordance with intervention procedures listed in Section 3: Reporting.

QWF is committed to taking reasonable steps to:

  • Host events where participants feel safe and welcome,
  • Publicize the policy at QWF-organized events and online spaces,
  • Prevent unsafe spaces by:
    • Putting in place a procedure for handling disclosures;
    • Dealing promptly with any disclosures and reports; and
    • Promoting respect among individuals.

More broadly, the committee will take part in uniting QWF’s existing policies underneath the umbrella of a Code of Conduct.

Statement to Read

The following statement, initiated at the 2019 QWF Literary Awards Gala, is to be read by the host at events organized by QWF (social gatherings, networking events, and the awards gala). See exceptions in Section 2: Policy Scope.

“This statement originates from the QWF Policy on Safer Spaces and Events, and we expect all those attending to honour it. The QWF is proudly dedicated to working toward a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment for everyone. We will not tolerate any behaviour that is predatory, harassing, or hateful. No participant at a QWF event should ever be made to feel physically or psychologically unsafe, intimidated, or harassed. So please look out for each other, and if you need support tonight, feel free to talk to one of the Active Listeners wearing yellow badges, who are here for you. They are [identify representatives by name, location, and identifying badge or other marker]. You can read the full policy, which includes the reporting process, on the QWF website.”

2. Policy Scope

When does this policy apply?

  • Interactions between and behaviour of any participants (QWF members or guests of members) during QWF-organized events and activities, in person and online, except for those interactions specified in established policies listed below; and
  • Interactions between and behaviour of participants online in the “QWF Community” Facebook group (in original posts and in comments).

When does this policy not apply?

3. Reporting


An incident of misconduct at a QWF-organized event has occurred.

Ways to Disclose

Members or guests of members at events may disclose the incident to QWF in one of the following ways:

  • Internal Reporting
    • The person initiating a disclosure (“The Complainant”) can approach a QWF Active Listener at the event. The Active Listener will offer a brief conversation, gather any information that the Complainant wishes to share, and take one of the two following steps:
      • The Active Listener will mention to the Executive Director or President that a disclosure was made but no action is to be taken. The Active Listener will not advance a formal report and does not have to disclose the names of any parties involved if this is the will of the Complainant; or
      • The Active Listener will take the Complainant’s contact information and summarize the formal report back to the Complainant to ensure its accuracy. The Active Listener will advance the report to the Executive Director, the President, or both, as desired by the Complainant.
    • The Complainant can contact QWF’s Executive Director (Lori Schubert) or President (Tawhida Tanya Evanson) to initiate a disclosure.
  • External Reporting
    • The Complainant can contact QWF’s affiliated Ombudsperson, Caroline Lemay, to initiate a disclosure.

Follow Up

If applicable, the Executive Director or President of the Board of QWF will contact the Complainant via email and ask how they would like to proceed. The following options are not exclusive, and it is understood that one process may lead to another. Similarly, the process may be stopped by the Complainant at any time.

Active Listening

An active listening session with the QWF’s affiliated Ombudsperson will be offered. These sessions are informal and are meant to discuss what the Complainant experienced and what should be done to make the Complainant feel safe and to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future. No formal action will be taken unless it has been agreed upon.

Formal Report

An in-person, online, or telephone conversation with the Ombudsperson will be offered to understand all the details of the incident. The Ombudsperson will provide notes from this conversation and next steps to the Complainant before creating a report on the incident. This report will be kept on record by QWF Board and Staff.

Contacting the Person Against Whom the Report Is Made (“The Respondent”)

In the situation that a formal report takes place and the report is sent to QWF, the Respondent will be made aware of the incident reported involving them. They will be given the opportunity to give their version of the situation in a dialogue with the Ombudsperson.

Depending on the nature of the incident, a resolution process will be put in place to ensure the Complainant’s and the community’s safety in a way that will be fair for all parties, including the Respondent.

Once the resolution process is considered to be over, if there are reasons to believe the community is not safer, QWF will take measures to ensure this safety. The measures taken could include but are not limited to:

  • Informal warning to the Respondent;
  • Written formal warning that includes clear expectations to be met in future events;
  • Removal from QWF events and/or Facebook group, and
  • Removal of membership status from QWF.
Fig 1: Flowchart for reporting an incident (See Appendix 2 for downloadable PDF)

4. Governing Groups Involved

QWF Shared Spaces Committee

The QWF Policy for Safer Spaces and Events has been developed by the QWF Shared Spaces Committee. The Shared Spaces Committee will meet to review policies and processes but is not involved in individual cases.

The Committee will consult with QWF Members throughout the year about QWF events, the QWF Policy for Safer Spaces and Events, for any concerns, questions, or suggestions for improvements.

QWF Active Listeners

Two to five Active Listeners are appointed for one-year terms by the Shared Spaces Committee and QWF Board and are the first point of contact and reporting for any incidents at a QWF-organized event or activity.

Before being appointed, they will receive training in appropriate and sensitive first responses by the Ombudsperson affiliated with QWF. The Active Listeners are committed to a confidential process, where the identity of anyone coming forward to report an incident will be kept anonymous if requested.

One or more Active Listeners will also be present during QWF-organized events (in-person or online) and will be available for any direct and discreet reporting at the time. They will be identified at the start of each event.

QWF Groups to Notify

In the event that a formal report is made and there is a decision to impose consequences, one or more of the following groups may be notified, depending on the circumstances of the complaint.

  • QWF Ethics Committee,
  • QWF Membership Events Committee,
  • QWF Community’s Facebook group moderators,
  • QWF Shared Spaces Committee,
  • QWF Staff, and/or
  • QWF Board.

Only those with the capacity to implement given consequences will be informed of the actions to take, and they will be responsible for monitoring the situation to ensure that the decision is carried out, and for reporting to management in case of a breach by any party subject to the decision.

Executive Director

Lori Schubert, lori@qwf.org

President of the Board of Directors

Tawhida Tanya Evanson, president@qwf.org


Caroline Lemay, qwf.ombuds@omega-ombs.ca

The general role of the Ombudsperson is detailed in Appendix 1: Terms of Reference, Ombudsperson.

5. Timeline

QWF understands that someone wishing to report an incident may first need to seek support before reporting. Therefore, there is no time limit within which incidents may be reported.

Please note, however, that consequences involving removal of membership or legal action may not be possible if more than one year has elapsed.

If an incident happened prior to the deployment of the QWF Policy for Safer Spaces and Events, the incident will not be subject to the same processes of investigation. However, active listening will be offered. Once an incident has been reported to an Active Listener, QWF will reply in no more than five working days. While we cannot guarantee a timeline for addressing incidents and reaching a satisfactory conclusion for all parties involved, QWF and the Shared Spaces Committee are dedicated to making this process as efficient as possible so as not to prolong or permit unsafe behaviours in its social spaces.

Appendix 1: Terms of Reference, Ombudsperson (PDF)

Appendix 2: Flowchart (PDF)