OCCRC’s Response to the Ontario Election

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The Province of Ontario elected a Progressive Conservative, government on June 7, 2018.

At Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC), we have appreciated the significant work of the previous Ontario government’s It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Harassment, and its leadership in the Action Plan’s implementation, including the Premier’s Provincial Roundtable on Violence Against Women.

We also recently saw the launch of the Ontario Gender-Based Violence Strategy, which would directly increase funding to sexual violence support services in Ontario. The Ministry of Status of Women’s work, under the Ontario Liberal Party, made brave and effective efforts to raise awareness around sexual violence, improve support for victims, improve prevention education, and introduce policy that improved system response to survivors. In the time of #MeToo and #TimesUp, this work was timely —and in our opinion, unprecedented in our government.

We value the Province’s commitment to address gender-based violence, its prevalence, and the challenges facing survivors of violence. We hope this work continues – as many will agree, much more work still needs to be done.

OCRCC hopes to work with our new government to further this important cause. While change can be challenging, there can also be opportunities.

Here’s what we commit to do:

OCRCC will continue to speak up with and for survivors of sexual violence, address victim-blaming myths, and reduce stigma for those who have been sexually violated. We will also continue to speak up for women’s rights, including women and girls’ right to live free from violence, and for the rights of all marginalized and equity-seeking groups.

Be part of this work. Here’s what you can do:

1. Continue believing survivors of sexual violence in your communities.
2. Help connect survivors and those that care about them to sexual violence supports near you.
3. Advocate for government investment and support in community sexual assault support services.
4. Stand up for those who experience stigma and discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation, sex, gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion, and other factors.
5. Join and support organizations, movements and groups advocating for an end to sexual violence.

Together, we will make a difference.

Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) is a network of community-based sexual assault centres/rape crisis centres across Ontario. Sexual assault centres deliver free and confidential crisis, advocacy and ongoing support to survivors of sexual violence throughout all of Ontario. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, please go to http://www.sexualassaultsupport.ca.

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Sexual Assault Centres Addressing Human Trafficking in Ontario

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By the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres

The sexual exploitation of persons through human trafficking is a crime that disproportionately affects women and girls. Marginalized and exploited populations of women – for example, youth, Aboriginal women and girls, and women with limited or no status in Canada – are most vulnerable to being targeted. Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan identifies that there is a “need for a more coordinated response to human trafficking”; further, a number of different sectors need to be involved “in order to assist victims with everything from safe housing to navigating immigration processes”.

We also recognized the importance of a collaborative approach to human trafficking. As sexual assault centres, we shared concerns on how to do collaborative work effectively in our own communities and across multiple sectors while maintaining a feminist anti-oppression and intersectional approach to the work.

Sexual Assault Centres in Ontario: Competencies in Addressing Human Trafficking

While all Ontario sexual assault centres support sexual violence survivors and share similarities in their programs and services, centres across the province are autonomous. Sexual Assault Centre staff and volunteers engaged in this work, however, all agree that sexual violence against women and children is power-based, gender-based, structurally supported and therefore political.

Violence includes the human trafficking of women. Particularly, sexual assault centres are interested in supporting women and girls who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. A recent report from the U.N. crime-fighting office noted that 2.4 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time, and 80 percent of them are being exploited sexually2.

In many ways, Sexual Assault Centres are well-positioned to address human trafficking in Ontario.

Sexual Assault Centres transferable competencies include the following:

  1. Centres are committed to respond to all survivors of sexual violence with whom they come into contact, including women experiencing sexual violence in the context of human trafficking.
  2. Centres have considerable and longstanding expertise in working with women surviving sexual violence from a trauma-informed, anti-oppression, intersectional framework.
  3. Centres understand that different women experience sexual violence differently. For example, a woman’s race, religion, socioeconomic status, age or sexual identity affects her level of risk for being targeted for acts of violence, as well as resources accessible to her in her healing from violence. This framework for support acknowledges that different women present different confidentiality, safety, shelter and access needs, and compels Sexual Assault Centres to respond to these needs.
  4. Feminist counselling approaches used at Sexual Assault centres include “the ability of workers to assert and reinforce boundaries in ways that do not exploit power differences between clients and staff…and the ability of workers to apply ongoing critical analyses of larger societal systems and institutions”¹.
  5. Centres have historically exercised the capacity, motivation and resourcefulness to support survivors of sexual violence who choose not to engage with the criminal justice system as a means of resolving their experience of violation. Sexual Assault Centre workers instead agree that mandatory reporting to police can promote overreliance on a current legal system which (1) does not effectively resolve most reported sexual assault cases, and (2) can alienate or outright prohibit access to support for marginalized populations of survivors², including survivors who are in conflict with the law. While it is important that sexual assault survivors have access to the legal system, women also need alternatives. This position can be very useful to survivors of human trafficking, who may elect not to engage with the criminal justice system, may face barriers, or may feel ambivalent about accessing the criminal justice system. Currently, many human trafficking initiatives in Ontario have a strong criminal justice focus; or prioritize the prosecution of traffickers ahead of support for trafficking survivors. In this, Sexual Assault Centres bring increased capacity to community work with survivors who choose not to report.
  6. Centres continue to exercise the capacity and motivation to advocate for women survivors individually (that is, on a case by case basis) and systemically.
  7. Centres have the capacity, motivation and expertise to challenge policy criteria (i.e. criteria for admission into a women’s shelter, to acquire Special Priority on housing listings, to apply for Ontario Works) meant to support women experiencing violence in their regions. Women who are trafficked often do not meet these criteria due to lack of documentation or identification. Motivated and experienced advocates, such as Sexual Assault centre staff, can support women in challenging outdated policy/criteria and achieving these supports.
  8. Centres agree that “survivors are at the centre of the work”3, and that this framework for supporting survivors of violence can be extended to developing specific supports for trafficked women. Support, in this context, includes activities and services facilitated by sexual assault centres, as well as larger lobbying action for legal and systemic changes that support survivors of trafficking. Sexual Assault Centres acknowledge that survivors of sexual violence “know from experience…where the gaps and traps are in systems and policies”4. In this, Centres are interested in understanding the needs of trafficked women and creating regional responses that address these needs.

Whether a Centre currently has direct experience supporting survivors of human trafficking in your region or not, it likely identifies with the above competencies and operationalizes them within its services for survivors of sexual violence.

These competencies are all applicable to ─ and useful in ─ addressing the needs of human trafficking survivors in Ontario. Continue reading

Mental Health, Youth and Sexual Violence: An FAQ

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By Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, White Ribbon Campaign, and OPHEA

What is mental health, and why is it especially important to young people?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Mental health problems can include panic and anxiety, depression and other mood problems, psychosis, eating problems and other emotional, coping or addiction problems.

It is estimated that around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental health problems. About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Without support, mental health problems can have a significant impact on a young person’s ability to engage with and succeed in their studies: “young people with mental health disorders are at great risk for dropping out of school”. As they grow older, additional challenges can accumulate, with “diminished career options arising from leaving school prematurely” and an overall “effect on productivity” and well-being.

Challenges also exist in providing helpful responses to young people dealing with mental health problems. Children’s Mental Health Ontario shares, for example, that:

  • 28% of students report not knowing where to turn when they wanted to talk to someone about mental health¹
  • Black youth are significantly under-represented in mental health and treatment-oriented services and over represented in containment-focused facilities²
  • First Nations youth die by suicide about 5 to 6 times more often than non-Aboriginal youth
  • LGBTQ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers.

Continue reading

Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair – Fourth Edition

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The Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair, organized by SACHA, celebrates and creates spaces for marginalized groups to have discussions about feminism through do-it-yourself publishing.

We’re aiming to create an accessible event that gives a platform to those often under-represented in zine culture.

HFZF will have people tabling, selling and chatting about their zines, and a six hour zine challenge.

When: Saturday, May 12th from 10am to 4pm
Where: Hamilton Public Library, Central Library – 4th Floor. 55 York Blvd, Hamilton ON

COST!
HFZF is FREE to attend. There will be zines for sale so if you do plan to go home with some new treats it’s a good idea to bring some money.

BOOK A TABLE!
Cost! A half table costs ten dollars. Book your table here – https://hfzf2018.brownpapertickets.com/

Free tables available. Email crickett@sacha.ca to book a free table OR if you are unable to book online through Brown Paper Tickets.

WHAT’S A ZINE?
A zine is a self-published book, magazine, or comic. Anyone can make a zine – using low-cost methods like collage and photocopying – to create a space for their words, ideas, images, and more. Not having to rely on traditional publishing allows for non-mainstream voices to be heard!

TBTN Happens on Stolen Land

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We’re excited to have Take Back the Night at Hamilton’s City Hall and also recognize that this land was not given up willingly by its original peoples.

This land acknowledgement was created by Laurier Public Research Interest Group:

WHAT IS A LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT?

A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes the unique and enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

WHY DO WE RECOGNIZE THE LAND?

To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honouring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also work noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous protocol.

WHOSE LAND ARE WE ON?

In Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Brantford we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples.

  • Anishnawbe peoples: Also known as Ojibway/Chippewa/Mississauga/Algonquin, original ancestral home was located on the north shore of Lake Huron, at the mouth of the Mississaugi River. During the 17th century, the Anishnawbe split, with groups migrating east to the Bay of Quinte and South into what is now known as south-western Ontario (from Toronto to Lake Erie). During the 18th century, the Anishnawbe began losing land due to European settlement and the northern movement of the Haudenosaunee into south-western Ontario. Today, Anishnawbe in south-western Ontario include the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Aamjiwnaang, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, and the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point.
  • Haudenosaunee peoples: Also known as Six Nations and Iroquois, are various nations that formed what is known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. It originally consisted of five Nations: Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Seneca, but in 1722, the Tuscarora joined to form the Six Nations. The Haudenosaunee reside in parts of Ontario and Upstate New York. The largest reserve in North America is the Six Nations of the Grand River, located near Branford, Ontario. Other communities where Haudenosaunee reside include Tyendinaga, Awkwesasne, and Oneida Nation of the Thames, to name a few.
  • Neutral peoples: Called the Neutrals due to their tendency to avoid conflict, and “Attawandaron” by the Hurons. They are made up of many distinct nations. They were decimated by colonial diseases during early colonization and any remaining members were mostly adopted into the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Kitchener-Waterloo and Brantford are both located on the Haldimand Tract, which, on October 25, 1784, after the American Revolutionary War of Independence, was given to the Six Nations of the Grand River by the British as compensation for their role in the war and for the loss of their traditional lands in Upstate New York (www.sixnations.ca). Of the 950,000 acres given to the Haudenosaunee (six miles on either side of the Grand River, all the way along it’s length), only 46,000 acres (less than 5 per cent) remains Six Nations land (www.sixnations.ca).

It is important to note that Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses are both located on the Haldimand Tract.

HOW DO WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE LAND?

“We acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe, Haudenosaunee and Neutral peoples” 

  • Haudenosaunee (Ho-deh-no-show-nee)
  • Anishnawbe (Ah-nish-nah-bay)
  • Neutral / Attawandaron (At-ta-won-da-ron)

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

  • The person giving the acknowledgement should be the host of the event or meeting themselves
  • Include a formal thank you to the host nation whenever making a presentation or holding a meeting, whether or not Indigenous individuals are part of the meeting or gathering
  • If you do not know the name of the Nation on whose territory or treaty land the building sits, ask around; Friendship Centers, Aboriginal Student Centers, local Band Offices are always a good source of information
  • Ask the Friendship Center or Aboriginal Student Center for help with the pronunciation.
  • If that is not possible, call the band office of the Nation after hours and listen to the recording
  • Practice saying the name is the host nation out loud
  • A land acknowledgment is not something you “just do” before an event. Rather it is a reflection process in which you build mindfulness and intention walking into whatever gathering you are having. It should be rooted in the whose land you are honoured to stand on and should guide how you move forward in both conversations and actions.

MOVING BEYOND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Although it is important to acknowledge the land, it is only a first step. We are all treaty signers, and are thus responsible and accountable for the violence that Indigenous people face. Allyship is a continuous process; it is not a designation that one can earn and hold forevermore. It is also not a label one can give themselves, but one you earn from your actions and commitment to standing in solidarity.

Allies must continually engage in self-reflection, and must consistently work at being an ally (through learning, acting in a de-colonial manner, and sustaining relationships with Indigenous Peoples, etc.)

Here are some simple ways you can begin the ongoing and continual process of acting in solidarity with Indigenous folks in Canada:

  • Learn: About oppression and privilege. About the history of colonization. About Indigenous peoples and cultures. About the land you live on. To listen. There are many books, blogs, documentaries, Independent media sites, plays, and songs that Indigenous people have written and performed that are great places to start learning.
  • Build relationships: Building relationships is a very important aspect of standing in solidarity. A great place to start on campus is going to the Aboriginal Student Center, located at 187 Albert Street. in Waterloo and 111 Darling St. in Brantford. Both campuses host a soup lunch once a week that is open to everyone. In addition, many other events take place throughout the year. Follow them on Facebook or visit in person to see what they have going on!
  • Act: By being accountable towards Indigenous people and communities by supporting what they are saying is important, aligning oneself with the struggle, and speaking up when something problematic is said.

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 ‘Until all of us have made it none of us have made it.’ – Rosemary Brown

Take Back the Night, an annual event organized by SACHA, is a powerful opportunity for survivors and their supporters to actively build connections, assertively reclaim our right to safety, and courageously stand up against violence.
TBTN centers the experiences of women and gender non-conforming folks. We invite men to cheer on the march from Gore Park.
When: Thursday, September 28th, 2017
  • 6:00pm – We Gather
  • 7:00pm – We Rally
  • 7:30pm – We March
Where: Hamilton City Hall – 71 Main Street, Hamilton ON
More info:

We will have both an HSR and a DARTS buses following the march for folks who are not able to march.

If you are not able to march the entire route there is a short cut back to City Hall at Summers Lane near the Hamilton Convention Centre. There will be a TBTN marshal waiting there to walk with folks back to City Hall.

Have worries about the event? Read more about You Can March With Us and Reasons Not To Come to TBTN.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TBTN2017.

For more information or to request ASL interpretation, contact SACHA:

905.525.4573
sacha@sacha.ca
http://www.sacha.ca

We are extremely grateful to all the folks that make Take Back the Night happen in Hamilton, especially Public Service Alliance of Canada WAWGClick here to help make TBTN thrive and to help SACHA support survivors and end sexual violence.

THE PROBLEMS WITH ‘THE PROBLEM WITH FEMINISM’

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By James Dee

I don’t even know where to begin here, other than to express profound disappointment that we are doing this yet again. For those of you who do not follow The Hamilton Spectator, yesterday an Op-Ed was published called ‘The Problem with Feminism‘. If you don’t want to read it the TLDNR version is essentially: “feminism was once important, but now it is bad”, followed by a list of reasons that are all entirely not things. I cannot believe that we are doing this again, Hamilton Spectator.

I cannot believe that in 2017 there are still people who willfully misrepresent what feminism is, which is the belief that humans of all gender identities and expressions are deserving of equal rights, respect and treatment. Being critical of ‘the construct of feminism’ as a whole is not brave or original, it is oppressive and disgusting. Full stop. Continue reading

Draw the Line Workshops in HamOnt

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As part of Hamilton Public Library‘s Hamilton Reads Series (#HPLreads), HPL and SACHA are hosting four Draw the Line workshops.

Tuesday, October 3rd – Safe Partying

  • 3pm at Central Library: 55 York Blvd
  • 7pm at Waterdown Branch: 163 Dundas Street East

    Half of sexual assaults in Canada involve alcohol. This interactive session will give participants harm-reducing tools for ending alcohol facilitated sexual assault and online sexual violence.

Wednesday, October 4th – How to be an Ally to Survivors

  • 2:30pm at Ancaster Branch: 30 Wilson Street East
  • 7pm at Barton Street Branch: 571 Bartons Street East

    If a coworker, family member or friend told you they had been assaulted, would you know how to respond? This interactive session will get participants thinking through the best ways of supporting people we love who have experienced sexual abuse.

    For the Ancaster workshop please register ahead of time by calling – 905-648-6911.

Continue reading