Creating Inclusive GBV Prevention And Support With International Students

Written by: Melanie Crudgington, Kate Parnell, Farrah Khan, Anoodth Naushan, and CJ Rowe

Post-secondary institutions (PSIs) are intended to be safe(r) spaces for learning, personal growth and community building. While college and university campuses are places where students are heavily engaged with academic and social activities, students may experience gender-based violence (GBV) and other forms of harm. Despite the fact that many PSIs have developed and implemented educational programs and support services to respond to GBV in university communities, this approach tends to miss a vulnerable population on campuses: those Students from International Pathways (SIPs).

**SIPs are students who have arrived in Canada within the last eight years and could include permanent residents, refugees and international students. SIPs could also include Canadians who may have been previously living outside of Canada and have now arrived in Canada within the last eight years.

The Courage to Act Report (2019) noted that SIPs have unique needs regarding gender-based violence at PSIs. However, programming and services have yet to be created in many institutions to meet these needs. Our research revealed some key gaps in the areas of response and support, and education (listed below), and more research is needed to determine the programming, policies and protocols to support International students impacted by GBV at Canadian PSIs.

Response and Support:

  • “For an international student, they often believe immigration is the law and that the process for PR (Permanent Residence) could entail lifting confidentiality. Ideally, in policies, it would explicitly state that immigration law would or would not apply to make it clear for many students. This would lift a major stigma. There is also no language in the preamble around cultural safety and support for either the survivor or the respondent” (Listening and Learning Participant as qt in the Courage to Act Report, pg. 46).

  • We should address challenges with study permits/visas if international students choose to withdraw or pause their studies (Courage to Act Report, 2019, pg. 64)


  • We need to engage and consult with international students, leaders and experts who work with international students to understand how best to educate and support international students (i.e. develop educational opportunities in accessible language, develop culturally competent programming, etc). (Courage to Act, 2019, pg. 110)

Read the full Courage to Act Report in English 

Read the full Courage to Act Report in French

Promising Practice: Simon Fraser University’s International Pathways Project

The International Pathways Project (IP Project), initiated by Simon Fraser University’s (SFU)  Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office (SVSPO) and in partnership with Fraser International College (FIC) and SFU’s International Services for Students (ISS), sought to identify barriers that SIPs face when accessing sexual violence support and engaging in sexual violence educational initiatives. This project also sought to survey SIPs’ knowledge of sexual health issues and to identify the sexual health base knowledge of SIPs at SFU and FIC.

Consultations with campus community partners about the project were conducted in Fall 2018. In partnership with ISS and FIC, the SVSPO conducted a survey to gauge SIPs perspectives as well as needs in relation to sexual violence support services and prevention education offered at SFU and FIC. Digital and paper questionnaires were created and distributed to undergraduate SIPs studying at SFU and FIC (separate report). They received 427 responses (166 SFU responses, 261 FIC responses), and a summary of these findings can be found via the links below. The hope is that these findings will enable PSIs to implement changes needed to better support SIPs.

To learn more, please watch the International Pathways Project webinar here

Creating Inclusive GBV Prevention and Support:

The following graphic highlights key findings in both the IP Project and the Courage to Act Report. It sheds insight on international students’ perspectives about and experiences in accessing GBV support services and prevention education on campus:

Gender-Based Violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic (5).png


Suggested Citation: Crudgington, Melanie., Parnell, Kate., Khan, Farrah., Naushan, Anoodth., & Rowe, CJ. (2020, June). Creating Inclusive GBV Prevention and Support with International Students. Courage to Act.

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