ANTIGONISH: Students attending post-secondary institutions deserve to receive their education in a safe and respectful environment, however, on campuses incidents involving sexual assault and the impact on survivors continue to be a barrier for students to succeed academically and personally.
The Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association (AWRCSASA) is receiving $197,622 from the Department of Justice over the next two years to address the gaps in sexual violence prevention on Nova Scotia university campuses. The funding will also be used to assist in the program’s sustainability and to translate it into French.
Through a program called “Waves of Change: Creating Campus Responses to Sexualized Violence,” the AWRCSASA will work to create the cultural change needed to end campus sexual violence.
“This has proven to be a very successful and important program for preventing sexualized violence and making college and university campuses safer places for all,” AWRCSASA executive director, Wyanne Sandler said. “This funding will ensure the sustainability of the program by allowing us to continue to build capacity at each of the institutions involved across the province.”
The program is made up of five separate training modules that take a prevention approach to sexualized violence on campus. The goal of this program is to teach participants to recognize a broad range of sexually violent scenarios that commonly occur on post-secondary campuses.
“The Government of Canada’s support for the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association is critical in helping this organization help students in Nova Scotia feel safe, secure and respected in their learning spaces,” Central Nova MP Sean Fraser said. “I look forward to the organization’s efforts to address sexual violence and to educate our local community on sexual assault on campuses.”
Sandler indicated participants also learn various techniques to intervene, either as a bystander or as a community, to interrupt or stop sexual violence, support survivors, hold those who cause harm accountable for their actions, and transform the culture that allows violence to happen.
According to the 2014 Statistics Canada General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization, only one in 20 sexual assaults (5 per cent) were reported to police, a rate over seven times lover than that for physical assaults (38 per cent).
The funding comes through the Victims Fund, which provides grants and contributions to support projects and activities that encourage the development of new approaches, promote access to justice, improve the capacity of service providers, foster the establishment of referral networks, and/or increase awareness of services available to victims of crime and their families.
Students are encouraged to learn how they can prevent sexualized violence on post-secondary campuses, become more active in creating safe and equitable communities, and contribute to ensuring that those around them can thrive during this important phase of their lives.