"This is the first Canadian conference that has brought research and the community together based solely on the topic of sexual consent," said Dr. Terry Humphreys, a Psychology professor at Trent University, describing the Sexual Consent Conference that took place at Trent on June 2 and 3, 2016.
The event, which was held at Gzowski College and the First Peoples House of Learning, attracted more than 200 delegates from the educational, social service and public health sectors, including researchers and front-line practitioners.
"A place of higher learning is the ideal space to hold a conference of this kind," Professor Humphreys said. "We are here to critique and to gain knowledge through discussion."
The conference addressed a broad spectrum of issues around sexual consent, ranging from consent on university campuses, to people with impaired cognitive capacity, to Indigenous perspectives. "We wanted to make sure we were encompassing in terms of what consent means," Prof. Humphreys explained.
Prof. Humphreys, whose area of research at Trent focuses on how young people negotiate consent in their daily lives, hosted the conference in collaboration with the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC). He pointed out that the timing was right for this type of conference.
"There was enough of a groundswell of interest around this particular issue, due to a number of high profile events, that we felt we would attract enough people for a successful conference which could generate understanding, learning and practice," he said.
Prof. Humphreys praised the leadership and support the conference received from Trent University and its community, noting that a variety of university groups and research centres sponsored segments of the conference, including Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) and Trent Centre for Aging and Society.
Lisa Clarke of KSAC, who coordinated the conference, said the support of TCSA and the involvement of students in organization, logistics, and leadership, was integral to the success of the event.
"This conference is the beginning of a greater conversation about sexual consent and the leadership that Trent University and the Centre can have in the province," Ms. Clarke said.