CALGARY — With calls to domestic violence support organizations increasing ahead of major sporting events, CFL officials sat down with members of those organizations for a networking breakfast Tuesday morning, ahead of this weekend’s Grey Cup.

The goal of the meeting was to discuss best practices for raising awareness about domestic and gender-based violence.

“Violence against women and girls affects us all,” Leela Sharon Aheer, minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women, said in a statement.

“We hope this is the start of bigger conversations that will open the doors to opportunities for teams across the country to collaborate with their local organizations to make a difference.”

Heer pointed out a study from the University of Calgary found that calls to domestic violence supports increase at specific times of the year, including during holidays and major sporting events.

City officials estimate upward of 500,000 will take part in five days of Grey Cup festivities at Stampede Park followed by Sunday’s Grey Cup final between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the league strives to be “a leader on the issue of gender-based violence.”

“Member clubs and many Canadian Football League teams work with local women’s groups and agencies to deliver meaningful gender-based violence-prevention programs across the country,” he said.

“The league also has in place a formal policy on violence against women, with strict protocol for dealing with reports that put the emphasis on providing the proper supports.

“The policy requires mandatory awareness training for all Canadian Football League employees.”

Ambrosie pointed out the Edmonton Eskimos have partnered with the Gender-Based Violence Prevention Program and the Calgary Stampeders have partnered with the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters to undergo the training.

“Still, there is much more for us to learn as a league and much more to be done by all of us in society,” said Ambrosie.