ANTIGONISH: A local campaign is aiming to make local communities safer.

On October 5, the Strait Area Community Response to Sexual Violence Network launched the “Every Door is the Right Door” campaign.

Project manager Nancy O’Regan said the campaign involves inviting local businesses and organizations to sign a letter of commitment showing their support for employees and volunteers learning about sexualized violence. O’Regan said there is an on-line course designed by the Department of Community Services under its “Breaking the Silence” strategy, noting the network is encouraging businesses and organizations to commit to a percentage of employees taking part in the course before March 10, 2018. The free on-line course, “Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence: A Nova Scotia Resource,” takes about three to five hours, can be done at any time, and offers a certificate upon completion.

“Last year, we had year one of the project funding and this is year two of the project funding,” she said. “The project is sponsored and housed at Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia but we still have a very involved advisory committee of partners who work on it including the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, Naomi Society, Leeside Society, Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia, and the Department of Community Services.”

Photo by Matt Draper
Bob Martin was one of the sepakers during the launch of the “Every Door is the Right Door” campaign in Antigonish on October 5.

O’Regan said the campaign is important because survivors of violence often struggle disclosing what happened to them. If the disclosure is not received well, she said, it can further traumatize people and discourage reaching out to formal services such as the RCMP.

“What we’re hoping to do is put some tools into the hands of people working at the community level to be able to be able to say ‘I believe you, what can I do to help, here are some organizations you might be able to go and talk to for further support,’” she said. “We want people to feel more empowered and have more knowledge and capacity to be able to help in their communities.”

O’Regan said the intention is to publish a list of those who participate in the campaign so individuals have a sense of who they can trust.

“I think we want to create a sense in communities and for citizens that people care about this issue and are trying to learn more about it,” she said.

Businesses to take part already include Highland Heart Weekly, Inverness Chiropractic, The Naomi Society, the Seniors Safety Coordinator, Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia, Days Gone By Bakery, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre, and the Sexual Assault Services Association – SANE Program.

Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey and Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster also sent letters of support for the launch.