What is a Proclamation?
A proclamation can be broadly defined as an official announcement. In the context of this resource, it is referring to a declaration by any level of government in recognition of a date or occasion. Only some governments allow proclamations; and where they do, individuals requesting proclamations will usually have to submit a request form or letter, typically virtually.
Proclamations are different from Bills. Members of the public are able to request proclamations where they are available, but Private Members Bills must be brought by a member of parliament/legislative assembly (non-executive). In seeking declaration or recognition of an occasion or cause, Private Members Bills are generally preferable due to their long-term power. Proclamations are only in place for the year that they’re declared, but they are also an incredibly effective tool for generating public awareness and education. The primary difference is that members of the public can directly make a request for proclamation, whereas a Bill will require the support of a legislator.
Proclamations and Consent Awareness Week
Young people in Canada need greater support and opportunities for learning about healthy sexuality. Consent Awareness Week provides these opportunities and lays the groundwork for better sexuality education across Canada. Possibility Seeds’ Courage to Act project and diverse community partners from across Canada are striving for a nationally declared Consent Awareness Week each year. Declaring Consent Awareness Week annually in the third week of September will provide an opportunity for people of all backgrounds across Canada to engage in vital, age-appropriate conversations about consent, bodily autonomy, and gender-based violence. Creating an official week in which to recognize and build education on consent will provide the opportunity for collaboration and collective engagement in the work to end gender-based violence. Consent Awareness Week also presents a chance for sexuality educators to focus on consent and bodily autonomy.
In 2022, the inaugural year of Consent Awareness Week, four provinces made declarations of the occasion. See below for an example of a proclamation (British Columbia) and an example of a Bill (Ontario) for Consent Awareness Week:
In coming years, we hope to see as many municipal, provincial and territorial governments as possible declare Consent Awareness Week. We also hope to see it declared nationally.
How do I request a proclamation?
Typically, governments have online request forms for proclamations. You can find these in the guide below, or through your own research. Some governments may require a formal letter in request of a proclamation; even further, some governments have no information on proclamations at all and some have outlawed it.
In places where proclamations are possible, begin by introducing yourself and your connection to the proclamation being requested. You will want to include the dates, the topic, and any specific wording to be included in the proclamation. The same applies in requesting a Private Members Bill (see sample letter below).
Be sure to submit the proclamation request at least 6-10 weeks before the dates outlined in the proclamation request – otherwise, your request may not be approved.
In places where proclamation request information is not readily available, it is worth sending a letter to inquire whether proclamations can be made and the process for doing so. It is best to present your request in this letter.
After the proclamation is approved
After obtaining approval for your proclamation request, it’s time to promote! Share information about your proclamation on social media and amongst your networks. You might host a press conference, or send notice of the proclamation to relevant media outlets.
Make all relevant community partners aware of the proclamation well ahead of time so that they have an opportunity to plan events to commemorate the occasion.
If the proclamation is rejected
If your proclamation request is rejected, don’t be discouraged! There are many reasons why a request may be rejected. If you are told why, be sure to incorporate that feedback into your next proclamation request attempt.
If your government does not accept proclamation requests, see what resources you can connect with in the community to recognize the occasion. Official declarations are nice to have, but Consent Awareness Week is about community. The learning and engagement it inspires are the most important thing.
Note: Many governments, both local, provincial, and territorial, either do not allow public requests for proclamations or do not have information readily available on the process. The below list of links is not comprehensive, and we encourage you to look further into relevant processes in your own region.
St. John’s: Find information about proclamations here.
Saint John: Send a submission to City Council here.
Ottawa: Request a proclamation here.
Toronto: Request a proclamation here.
Saskatoon: Request a proclamation here.
Edmonton: Request a proclamation here.
Calgary: Request a proclamation here.
Vancouver: Request a proclamation here.
Victoria: Request a proclamation here.
Whitehorse: Find information about proclamations here.
Alberta: Request a proclamation here.
British Columbia: How to request a proclamation.
Prince Edward Island: Request a message or proclamation.
Yukon: Request a proclamation.
The declaration of occasions by federal government can be pursued through a couple of different avenues. You will need to write to your federal representative, asking for their support to introduce the proclamation in a Private Members’ Bill to be reviewed by the House of Commons or a public Bill to be reviewed by the Senate.
More information can be found here. You can use the fillable letter template below, or use it as a sample to create your own.
Was your Consent Awareness Week advocacy successful? We want to hear about it! Email email@example.com.
Suggested Reference: Courage to Act. (2023, July). Proclamations 101: Advocating for Consent Awareness Week and Beyond. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/proclamations-101