Federal funding spurs gender-based violence project

The Government of Canada Status of Women is funding a $195,892 project at the University of Lethbridge, part of a nearly $4 million investment nationwide, designed to implement mechanisms for preventing gender-based violence on campus.

The University of Lethbridge, YWCA Lethbridge and District and the Sexual Violence Action Committee will collaborate on the project, one of 23 such initiatives being funded across the country.

"There is no place in our society for incidents of violence against women," says Jim Hillyer, Member of Parliament for the Lethbridge Constituency. "Our government is committed to providing the means necessary to create safe and inclusive communities across the country, and that begins by giving our students the opportunity to pursue their educational goals in a secure environment, with the support services they need to be successful."

The University of Lethbridge continues to prioritize the creation of a healthy, supportive and collaborative environment for its students, and by working with partners such as the YWCA and the Sexual Violence Action Committee, the University further strengthens its connection to the southern Alberta community.

"This is an outstanding initiative that speaks to the University's ongoing efforts to offer its students a safe and supportive campus atmosphere," says Judith Lapadat, the U of L's associate vice-president (students). "What's more is that this project is another example of the University working with community groups for the betterment, not only of our campus experience, but of society as a whole."

The project will be largely student driven and is designed to augment the U of L's already existing student services, promoting additional safety mechanisms and, most importantly, engaging the student population in an ongoing campaign of awareness and education about gender-based violence.

"We haven't yet determined the scope of the project because the direction for this must come from the students and the priorities that they identify," says Lapadat.

A safety audit of campus to determine areas of need related to risks associated with gender-based violence will set the stage for the implementation of the project, after which students will play a key role in setting the agenda for the development of points of action.

"Campus is home to many students; some of us live here, many of us meet friends and create new families here, and most of us launch and re-launch our lives here," says Danika Jorgensen, U of L student and co-ordinator for the Campus Women's Centre. "I'm incredibly excited that students will be front and centre in this campus directive, and I look forward to the opportunities it presents for students to be heard and to get involved with helping to maintain a safe campus atmosphere."

YWCA Lethbridge and District will play a key role in moving the project forward.

"We are overwhelmed by the support of Status of Women Canada to further our community's work in addressing gender-based violence," says Kristine J. Cassie, Chief Executive Officer. "The opportunity to partner with the University of Lethbridge and continue work with the Sexual Violence Action Committee creates the prospect to build a unique and student-driven initiative that is both meaningful and sustainable in addressing the impacts of gender-based violence on our community."