In Recognition of the 2016 UAlberta Advocate Award Recipient

Kristopher Wells — Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education; Faculty Director iSMSS

University of Alberta UAlberta Advocate Award - Calder Bateman Communications

I first had the opportunity to work with the creative staff at Calder Bateman as part of developing the award-winning campaign, which featured (1) an innovative website tracking the astonishing use of casual homophobic slurs in real time on Twitter; (2) the development of a public service television commercial; and (3) a series of advertising posters, which were displayed on the LRT, and in bars and restaurants across Canada. The website quickly gained international attention as an innovative way to interweave the use of social media and public education together to facilitate important conversations on the impact of discrimination, prejudice, and hate. Sadly, the use of homophobic language remains one of the few socially acceptable forms of discrimination in our society and leads to isolation, bullying, violence, and in may tragic cases, youth suicide. As the site shows, it occurs millions of times in social media.

From its launch day in September 2012, has struck a nerve and received worldwide attention because it showed the real world of homophobia rather than simply being a commentary. generated amazing media coverage from the Red Deer Advocate in Alberta, to the Miami Herald and the Cambodian Times. It has seen thoughtful analysis from prominent bloggers and leading mass media outlets including The Economist, The Atlantic, The Guardian, the Globe and Mail, BBC, and CBS, to name just a few. The Edmonton Journal called it “one of the most remarkable public information campaigns” in the University’s history. A columnist in The Independent (UK) called it “a terrifying website… if you doubt the scale and loathing which this minority has to endure, five minutes on the website should cure you.”

To date, the campaign has received over a dozen local, national, and international awards, including some of the most prestigious awards in the communications industry, including Communication Arts, Interactive Annual 19, “Social Category”; One Show, Merit Award: Public Service — Best use of Social Media/Facebook; and locally the ACE Best In Show award, to name only a few of the many recognitions Calder Bateman has received. Perhaps most importantly, the campaign took the University of Alberta to places it had never been heard of before in the world, such as front pages of newspapers in India as one notable example. Under the in-kind leadership of Calder Bateman, the project truly became an international phenomenon, which is still used as an important teaching tool today in classrooms around the world.

More recently, we had the great privilege to partner with Calder Bateman once again on the development of the very recent Pride Tape campaign. Pride Tape was launched on December 16, 2015 with a media event at the University of Alberta. Pride Tape is designed as a badge of support from the hockey world to LGBQT players and youth. It shows every player that they belong on the ice. That we’re all on the same team. Imagine how you would feel as a LGBQT athlete if you saw rainbow Pride Tape on the stick of one of your teammates, or even your opponents. Little things like this can make a huge difference.

To support the development of Pride Tape, we partnered with Calder Bateman to develop a grassroots Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to produce the first 10,000 rolls of tape. To date over 1,100 individual supporters or “Backers” have donated over $76,000, far exceeding our $54,000 campaign goal. Once produced, all proceeds from the future sales of Pride Tape will go to support LGBTQ youth outreach initiatives, such as the You Can Play Project and the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services. That means every roll of tape will make an impact on and off the ice.

The response to Pride Tape, and the exposure for the University of Alberta, has been tremendous. Pride Tape television public service ads, featuring Edmonton Oilers Alternative Captain Andrew Ference, were aired across Canada during time donated by all the major networks, representing over $500,000 dollars in free advertising, let alone all the earned media coverage. Pattison Outdoor also donated digital billboards all across English-speaking Canada. New Ad Media donated space for Pride Tape posters to be displayed in bars and restaurants across Canada. Pride Tape has also been featured in a special segment on Hockey Night in Canada, in The Hockey News, Fox News Sports, and USA Today to name only a few of the dozens of media outlets across Canada and the United States.

Perhaps, one of the most memorable accomplishments was the incredible support received from both the Edmonton Oilers and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, which resulted in an $8,000 donation, and the worldwide professional hockey debut of Pride Tape at the Oilers Skills Competition on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at a sold-out Rexall Place in front of 15,000+ fans. As a result of this amazing partnership, and the incredible work of the Calder Bateman team, the University of Alberta has made incredible inroads into the hockey world. Many other NHL hockey teams and professional and amateur hockey leagues from across North America have all contacted us requesting rolls of Pride Tape to spread the message of inclusiveness to their communities. We are now working closely with the National Hockey League on establishing a partnership to support Pride Tape throughout the professional hockey world. Even the Premier of Alberta tweeted out her support for Pride Tape, and the Mayor of Edmonton called Pride Tape a fantastic made in Edmonton success story.

The work of Calder Bateman in support of both the and Pride Tape campaigns represents an incredible in-kind donation of time and talent of over $200,000 to support the University’s mission to advance the public good. These two public awareness campaigns represent the incredible synergy of research, advocacy, and public education as a powerful force for social change. The in-kind work of Calder Bateman, in support of the University of Alberta and the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, represents all 5 pillars of the Community Connection Awards: Demonstrate — innovative ways to connect research and scholarship to advance public education and knowledge mobilization. Reward — the work of public intellectuals and corporate citizens to make ground-breaking contributions to local, national, and international communities. Inspire — individuals and communities to engage in our social responsibility to challenge discrimination and build a more just and inclusive world. Promote — participation to dialogue through innovative technologies and mediums to foster reflective and critical conversations. Engage — with humility and service to use our professional knowledge and research in support of vulnerable communities.

It has been an immense privilege to have worked alongside the incredible staff at Calder Bateman Communications. This partnership represents what is truly possible when we bring our collective talents together as researchers and corporate citizens to inspire social change, while fulfilling the University of Alberta’s mission to “uplift the whole people.” I could not be more proud to support Calder Bateman as the 2016 UAlberta Advocate Award recipient for this important university recognition.


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Kristopher Wells — Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education; Faculty Director iSMSS

Dr. Kristopher Wells is an Assistant Professor and iSMSS Faculty Director, Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, University of Alberta. With Dr. Andre P. Grace he is the Co-Founder of Camp fYrefly, which is Canada’s only national leadership retreat for sexual and gender minority youth. In 2015, Dr. Wells received the University of Alberta’s Alumni Horizon Award recognizing outstanding early career accomplishments.

Community Connection Awards

When: Monday, May 2
Time: 12:00 P.M. — 1:00 P.M.
Where: City Room, City Hall

A dessert reception will follow the presentation