Prevention, Intervention and Awareness is Avalon's work in and with community to
- increase understanding of sexualized violence
- increase understanding that every individual has the ability to make change regarding sexualized violence in society, and
- build skills to support change in our communities, working with service providers, youth, and others.
Community/Legal Education and Training, and Advocacy
Training: Professional training on a wide range of topics related to sexualized violence and trauma informed intervention and response are offered to a range of service providers, community organizations, volunteers, and first responders. Participants in training come from a wide range of backgrounds including police officers, nurses, shelter support staff, front-line trauma response clinicians, teachers, academics, student leaders, doulas, lawyers, social workers, artists, and youth leaders. Demand for our workshops, trainings and public talks has been greater than we expected, and continues to grow. As a result, we need to re-imagine the program in order to be able to meet the need from within our existing capacity. Our ability to offer programming during the restructuring period is limited, but we will be back with an effective and sustainable offering soon! Stay tuned.
Systemic Change: Avalon works to advance systems change through various legal interventions such as participating on the RCMP Sexual Assault Investigation Review Committee, the Halifax Sexual Assault Response Team, and the development, implementation, and maintenance of the Independent Legal Advice Project. Further, Avalon has partnered with the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) to intervene in key sexual assault trials and consulted on a variety of Department of Justice and Prosecution projects and activities, for example: https://novascotia.ca/pps/publications/survivors-guide-to-sexual-assault-prosecution.pdf
Avalon partners with community organizations and universities and colleges across the province to advance and improve the response to survivors of sexualized violence. For example, we work with the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Service Association on the Waves of Change Campus Bystander Intervention Project, the Provincial Sexual Violence Prevention Consent Content Committee, and work with various student leaders and campus professionals at institutions across the province each year to ensure healthy relationships and consent information is available and accessible across campus.
We are also part of various national initiatives, for instance Courage to Act brings together post-secondary faculty, staff, students and other community members from across Canada to implement strategies and tools on campus to prevent and address gender-based violence. Over two years the project is creating toolkits and resources, hosting webinars and podcasts, and in January 2021 will host a skillshare around practices developed in the project’s ten communities of practice which are meeting monthly. The communities of practice are: Complaints Processes, Can Justice Heal: Alternative Resolutions, Student Organizers, Frontline GBV Campus Workers, Educators, Working with People Who Have Caused Harm, Francophone, International Students, Engaging Men on Campus, and Work.
Community Initiatives: Avalon works with our partner community organizations to advocate for better community supports for survivors. This happens through coordination and collaboration, for example with the Trafficking and Exploitation Service System lead by YWCA Halifax. Through this project, Avalon Chairs the LGBTQ2S response group. We support on-going community work, for example through the Canadian Federation of Student's Consent Culture Forum and Mount Saint Vincent University Annual Girls Conference.
Avalon has partnered with the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning to co-develop CCCRASH (Creating Comics for Consent, Relationships, and Sexual Health.) This program uses graphic arts to engage youth in conversations about healthy relationships, boundaries, and consent, and Youth Health Centre Coordinators have been trained to implement the program in schools across the Province.
We also work with businesses, schools, and the public to share our internationally acclaimed I Don't Owe You Campaign (https://avaloncentre.ca/campaigns/i-dont-owe-you/). Through this work, we uphold the values of co-creating empowered communities through advancing themes of healthy relationships, boundaries, consent, and autonomy.
Avalon works with vulnerable populations and communities of people living with marginalized identities to reduce barriers and improve access to services and support after experiencing sexualized violence. We help to bridge individuals to appropriate resources and in doing so build strong relationships with key partners. Working with community partners like ISANS, the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Elizabeth Fry Society, and the Association of Black Social Workers on culturally appropriate practices, engaging in mutual support, building capacity and collaborating on programs are just some of the aspects of work Avalon is doing in the community to improve access to service. Internally, Avalon continues to improve policies and practices to be more diverse and respectful of intersectionality, anti-oppressive practices, and inclusion – through hiring, safer space and workplace.
Avalon works with various community groups to build their capacity to respond to the needs of survivors of sexualized violence. We respond to community requests for professional development training or initial response training. We also work to build community partnerships with other organizations across the province, to support organizations in responding to the needs of survivors of sexual assault while also building the capacity of Avalon to respond to the needs of different marginalized groups.
Support for amendments to Bill C-51 regarding capacity to consent
In late 2018 Avalon joined in the effort to improve understanding of the importance of proposed amendments to Bill C-51. Read more here.
Intervention before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in R. v. Al-Rawi
In late 2017 the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre (Avalon) intervened before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in R. v. Al-Rawi to offer the Court of Appeal a feminist perspective on the legal issues raised in the appeal. Read more here.
Advocacy on Judicial Training
In early 2017 Executive Director Jackie Stevens presented and submitted information to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women on Bill C-337. Read more here. Avalon also met with Marc Giroux, Commissionaire of Federal Judicial Affairs, and was a member of the Consultation Committee on Judicial Training Curriculum for the National Judicial Training Institute.
Justice Camp Intervention
In 2016, Avalon joined a national coalition of women’s organizations as an intervenor in the inquiry into the conduct of Justice Robin Camp while he presided over a sexual assault trial in Alberta. Read more here, and here.
Reforms to the Nova Scotia Limitations of Actions Act
In 2014 and 2015 Avalon advocated for and consulted government on changing the Limitations of Actions Act to remove the statute of limitations, to allow survivors of childhood and historical sexual abuse and assault to sue civilly. Avalon stood with a group of survivors in advocating for this. Read more here.
Preventing violence against women and girls in Dartmouth North
The Dartmouth North Project grew out of a need to address institutional barriers and other factors that limit community efforts to prevent and reduce violence against women and girls in identified high-risk neighbourhoods. With a focus on female youth between the ages of 12-25 living in Dartmouth North, the project provided an opportunity for community residents to work together to mobilize the community around issues pertaining to addressing violence against women and girls.
With consultation from the neighborhood, a needs assessment was conducted and provided an in-depth look at the climate of the community around issues related to sexual violence. The needs assessment provided an opportunity for community residents to participate first hand in being apart of the solution towards addressing the issues in the community. The community was involved in identifying strategies to address violence against women and girls. The coordinators were responsible for working with the community to implement the strategies. This project, funded by Status of Women Canada provided the opportunity for Avalon Sexual Assault Centre to work with organizations and community members in Dartmouth North to address systemic barriers that lead to violence against women and girls. Robyne Gorman and LaMeia Reddick, both life-long residents of Dartmouth North were hired as the coordinators of the Dartmouth North Project. Both LaMeia and Robyne brought a lot of knowledge and passion to the project.
The key priorities:
- Sexual assault and sexualized violence (normalization of sexual violence, exploitation of young girls, date rape)
- Violence associated with means of survival (sex work, weapons, gangs, drugs)
- Verbal and physical violence (often in the form of domestic abuse)
Additional findings of areas to be addressed:
- Police presence in the community (relationships with community, response time)
- Barriers to community collaboration (lack of communication, awareness of programs/services, duplication of programs/services.
- More involvement with the schools in the area. Service providers could facilitate programs during or after school hours and evening programs.
- Community collaboration between service providers and community members should be strengthened.
- Service providers should look at how easy they are to be accessed, like hours of operation, location, cost, and lack of specific services.
- Service providers should move towards a trauma-informed model of care.