The Toronto Comic Arts Festival exists to celebrate comics, graphic novels and the people who make them. It is in this spirit that we aim to provide a safe environment free of discrimination and harassment, where all those who participate in any aspect of TCAF are treated with respect and dignity, can contribute fully, and have equal opportunities.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, every person has the right to be free from harassment and discrimination. This includes all harassment, intimidation, and discrimination made on the basis of race, colour, age, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, place of origin, ancestry, ethnic origin, disability, medical condition, religion, class, body size, veteran status, marital/domestic partnership status, family status, citizenship, or any other marginalized identity.

TCAF is committed to a comprehensive strategy to address harassment and discrimination, including: providing training and education to make sure everyone knows their rights and responsibilities; regularly monitoring the organization for barriers relating to grounds that have been articulated under the Ontario Human Rights Code; providing an effective and fair complaints procedure; and, promoting appropriate standards of conduct at all times.

The TCAF Code of Conduct applies to all situations of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination at all events TCAF hosts, has paid for a venue, or has played an organizing role in. This includes off-site and online venues. Online interactions include but are not limited to Zooms, webinars, other online meetings as well as communications and content posted on, or directed towards TCAF’s social media accounts. We expect all participants to abide by this Anti-Harassment Policy.

Code of Conduct

All participants in TCAF events and activities, including guests, staff, volunteers, and attendees, are required to comply with the following anti-harassment code of conduct. The TCAF Code of Conduct prohibits harassment, including but not limited to the following behaviours:

  • Verbal and Physical conduct of an abusive and/or discriminatory nature
  • Harmful or prejudicial verbal comments, written comments, or other forms of communication related to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, religion, socio-economic status, disability, age, appearance, body size, or other personal characteristics
  • Unwelcome sexual attention or advances
  • Unwanted and/or discriminatory advances
  • Intimidation, stalking, or following
  • Body policing, unwelcome photography or recording
  • Sustained disruption of talks or other events
  • Inappropriate physical contact
  • Bullying or coercion
  • Quid pro quo – sexual harassment that occurs when someone in a position of authority or industry gatekeeping requests sexual acts in exchange for professional consideration or favours

Reporting Procedures

Any person who believes there has been a violation of the TCAF Code of Conduct can report the offense in one or all of the following ways:

  • All TCAF events will designate one or more TCAF Staffers who will be available during the event to provide a safe space for anyone to report an incident.
  • A complainant may request assistance from any TCAF Staffer. TCAF Volunteers will be available at in-person events to help identify TCAF Staffers. Online events will identify the TCAF Representative who will be available if there is an incident to be reported.
  • TCAF has a dedicated email address for reporting any incident of harassment. Anyone who chooses to report an incident can email safety@torontocomics.com. Reports can be submitted anonymously or with identifying information. This account will only be accessible to the Executive Director, and members of the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access) Committee. Members of the IDEA committee are TCAF directors. To qualify for this committee, they cannot have direct professional ties to the comics industry.
  • All reports to the safety email account will be viewed by the ED and IDEA Committee. Reports of incidents will be handled first by the ED; if they are unable to resolve the matter, the report will be escalated to the IDEA committee. All reports made will be reviewed by the IDEA committee and shared with the entire board; sensitive details will be anonymized as needed.
  • TCAF will investigate all complaints, including those made anonymously, and take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to prevent a recurrence. TCAF will make every attempt to respond to a named complainant in a timely fashion. Please note, however, that TCAF will not be able to follow up on an anonymous report with the complainant directly. If appropriate, TCAF may report the incident to local authorities.
  • Reports may include the substance of the complaint, date, and whenever possible, a list of witnesses or a reference to the relevant URLs, if the offense occurred online. It is not necessary to submit a form to report an incident.
  • The safety email account will be monitored daily during the festival and for a week following and on a weekly basis thereafter.

Non-Retaliation

The TCAF Anti-Harassment Policy prohibits retaliation against a member of the TCAF community for reporting harassment, intimidation or discrimination, or for participating in an investigation relating to any complaint made. The sanctions for retaliation are the same sanctions available to address any other violation of the TCAF Code of Conduct.

Sanctions

TCAF takes all allegations of harassment seriously. Complaints will be investigated by TCAF if they fall within the scope of the Anti-Harassment Policy. Depending on the results of the investigation TCAF will determine whether a sanction is appropriate.

Sanctions may include any of the following:

  • enrolment in mandatory education and training;
  • warning the party involved that the particular behaviour is inappropriate and must be ceased;
  • immediate removal from the event;
  • denial of access to TCAF spaces and venues on a temporary or permanent basis;
  • prohibition from future attendance;
  • expulsion from TCAF; 
  • removal from the Board of Directors, when appropriate according to TCAF’s By-Laws

Confidentiality

TCAF will make every reasonable effort to conduct all investigations into allegations of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in a manner that will protect the confidentiality of all parties. Notwithstanding the above, confidentiality is not absolute, and those with a legitimate legal reason to know and be informed of the allegations will be so informed. Parties to the complaint should treat the matter under investigation with discretion and respect the reputation of all parties involved.

If you have questions regarding this policy, you may send an email to contact@torontocomics.com. Please include the words “anti-harassment policy” in the subject line.  

NOTE: This policy is a living document and will be reviewed after TCAF 2021 and continually updated.