From Possibility Seeds’ Courage to Act project and student partners
Canada’s National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence (NAP) is an important step in the work to address and prevent gender-based violence (GBV) across the country. As strategic policy and funding decisions start to occur within the provinces and territories around the implementation of the NAP; it is imperative that the voices and needs of students and youth are not forgotten nor sidelined. The responsibility lies with our provinces and territories to protect young people in Canada, as they are the ultimate decision-makers on which points within the NAP to adopt and how to distribute funding.
Research by Statistics Canada reveals that young women aged 15-24 comprise almost half (47%) of people subjected to sexual assault in Canada (2017), and 29% of women in this age group reported having been subjected to intimate partner violence in the past year (2018). Within Canadian post-secondary spaces, 71% of students either witnessed or been subjected to unwanted sexualized behaviours (2019). These statistics paint an alarming picture. Innovative, sustainable, and meaningful action is needed to ensure students and young people across Canada are protected from gender-based violence.
In August 2022, youth leaders from coast to coast representing over 1.2 million students came together to release Our Campus, Our Safety: Student Leaders’ Action Plan for Institutions and Governments to Address and Prevent Sexual Violence on Campus (OCOS). This Action Plan outlined the following four asks for provincial and territorial governments:
Ensure sustainable funding for community sexual assault centres and post-secondary sexual assault services;
Build provincial advisory committees on campus sexual violence with paid student representation;
Set provincial standards for campus sexual violence data collection in collaboration with key stakeholders; and
Create and strengthen provincial legislative and regulatory frameworks to address and prevent sexual violence on campus.
There has yet to be a single governmental response to Our Campus, Our Safety, and November’s NAP announcement provides the perfect opportunity to change that. The NAP and Our Campus, Our Safety align in several critical areas on the action needed to address campus GBV: improving services and supports for survivors, providing prevention education, applying trauma-informed approaches to justice systems and collecting data on instances of sexual and gender-based violence.
During the annual international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, we are calling on provincial and territorial governments to implement the recommendations provided in Our Campus, Our Safety and prioritize young people in the implementation of the NAP.
As mobilization on the next phase of NAP begins, we also call upon anti-gender-based violence organizations to meaningfully work with youth, student unions and youth organizations in the practical implementation of the funding they receive from provincial and territorial governments.
Youth are the experts on what we need and deserve a seat at the table. Gender-based violence does not need to be a part of growing up in Canada.
Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations
High School Too
Keneisha Charles (Toronto Metropolitan University Consent Action Team)
Naomi Stobart (Vice President Academic, StFX Students’ Union)
Olufunke Sophia Adeleye (President, Brandon University Students Union)
Students’ Association of MacEwan University
Tera Leigh Cardinal (Vice President External, Students’ Association of Mount Royal University)
The Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University
University of Lethbridge Students’ Union
Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union
Ziyana Kotadia (Chair, Safe Campus Coalition)
Watch the November 29th press conference with Aubrianna Snow (Courage to Act), Ziyana Kotadia (Safe Campus Coalition, ON), Aryanna Chartrand (Alliance of BC Students), Tera Leigh Cardinal (Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations, AB), and Jenna Meier (High School Too, ON):
Suggested Reference : Courage to Act. (2022, November). Statement on the Federal Government’s National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/NAP.