Nearly two weeks after a disturbing early-morning encounter on a hotel elevator, local MLA Jessica Littlewood continues to speak up for every woman’s right to feel safe.
Earlier this month Littlewood was returning alone to her hotel room after a typically busy Stampede night of speaking with stakeholders. It was about 1:30 a.m. when the Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville MLA stepped onto an elevator with two strangers.
As the elevator arrived at the men’s floor, something happened that left Littlewood feeling the need to defend her own safety.
“One of them propositioned me to go back to their room in a quite sexually explicit manner,” she said. “And so I threatened the police on them and then swore a blue streak.” The men left the elevator after Littlewood spoke up, one of them “a little bit worse for wear.”
“I was by myself. I didn't know who was awake in the middle of the night. And it was just a really normal sort of day to day thing to do. But then it took a scary turn pretty quickly.”
The MLA later shared details of the incident on Twitter, writing “Sexual violence is real. Please help us fix this.”
In the days following her upsetting encounter Littlewood has heard “over and over” from women who’ve had similar experiences. What happened on that Calgary elevator is the sort of thing women go through every day, something we all need to recognize isn’t okay, Littlewood said.
“I think it's important to shed the light on this sort of thing so that we can help address it together as opposed to trying to keep this stuff silent."
Littlewood wonders why the unknown man thought it was okay to say what he did, pointing out that the conversation was far beyond appropriate.
“My dad always taught me to say hi to people whether I'm passing them on the sidewalk or getting into the elevator,” she said. “I don't know at what point they were told that it was okay to conduct themselves in that manner. Because I certainly wasn't raised that way.”