Category: Miscellaneous

Survivor’s Hope Welcomes Angie Hutchinson as the New Executive Director

Executive Director Angie Hutchinson stands on a deck. there are lush green trees behind her. Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre has welcomed Angie Hutchinson as the new Executive Director. Angie Hutchinson is a First Nations woman whose work has focused on gender equality, addressing exploitation and gender-based violence, and improving the economic, legal, social and health status of Indigenous women and gender diverse individuals and their families. Angie also brings extensive experience working with all levels of government (First Nations, municipal, provincial, and federal). Angie approaches her work with a culturally appropriate, trauma and compassionate informed understanding, creating space of inclusion and trust to foster natural connections and collaboration.

“ I am excited to work with Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre in realizing its vision of providing hope and healing through the provision of services including emotional support, information on options, referrals, and support services for survivors and victims of sexual assault of any sex, gender, or background who are 16 and older.” said Hutchinson “Offering hope and validation for those affected by sexualized violence and working to address the root causes and social norms that contribute to the occurrence of sexual violence is how we move towards safety for individuals and communities.”

Survivor’s Hope would also like to thank Stephanie Klassen for her commitment to supporting survivors and victims of sexual assault. Stephanie, and the dedication, passion, compassion, and leadership she provided Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre over the years will truly be missed.

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Education for Judges?

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Manitoba’s provincial government recently decided to not make any changes to the training judges are required to attend regarding sexual assault law. This is in spite of other provinces, like Ontario, enforcing training for all new judges (some would like the training to be mandated to all existing judges).

Sexual assault stands out as statistically unique in Canada’s courts, and this is not just a Canadian problem. According to the most recent General Social Survey, only one in twenty victims of sexual assault perpetrated by a stranger are reported to law enforcement, compared to one in three other crimes resulting in victimization as defined by the survey. We know that more than half of all sexual assaults are committed by partners or acquaintances, and these are even less likely to be reported to law enforcement.

All of that is part of sexual assault cases having the very lowest conviction rate of all violent crimes tried in Canada. Only 0.3% of sexual assault incidences result in a conviction. In fact, of the cases that actually end up before a judge, fewer of them result in a conviction than any other violent crime.

Victims of sexual assault also report higher rates of PTSD and disruption in their lives than victims of other crimes. One in four victims of sexual assault experience difficulty carrying out regular daily activities after an assault. And when all is said and done, one in three women and one in six men will have an experience of sexualized violence.

Let’s sum this all up by saying three things:

  1. Sexual assault happens a lot.
  2. The vast majority of people who commit sexual assault face no consequences for their actions.
  3. A big chunk of our population is left reeling because of sexual assault.

Maybe we could ALL use some more education about sexual assault and consent and how to prevent this shockingly common tragedy. This data should inspire a revolution in the public conversation about gender, sex, and relationships. If it’s money that we care about, the cost of prevention can’t be anywhere as high as the cost of sexual assault. Educational programs like our SADI program should be expanded and brought to every school!  I bet that would include some future judges!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: North Eastman Students Confused About Age of Consent

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Since the 1970s, organizations across North America and around the world have worked to raise awareness about the medical, legal, social, and emotional impacts of sexual assault.

Despite decades of activism, many misconceptions about sexual assault remain. Survivor’s Hope recently surveyed high school students in North Eastman found that students are unclear about the legal age of consent in Canada.

I had students throughout the North Eastman region complete a short quiz about sexual exploitation as a part of the Reaching Out Program for Survivor’s Hope. There was one question that seemed to stump the students and it was the question about the legal age of consent. More than half of the students did not know the right answer to that question.

It is very important that students know that the legal age of consent is 16. It is equally important that they know, their parents know, and the adults who work with youth know about the additional clauses regarding age of consent, or also referred to as age of protection.

The legal age of consent in Canada changed from 14 years of age to 16 in May 2008. However, the age of consent is 18 when the situation may be exploitative. This means that someone who is 16 or 17 cannot consent to sexual activity with anyone in a position of trust or authority, such as a teacher, coach, boss, or caretaker. Anyone under 18 is also not able to consent to being involved in pornography or prostitution in any way. All adults who engage minors in these activities are committing a criminal offence and should be reported to the RCMP.

There are also “peer group” exceptions in Canada’s criminal code. Someone who is 14 or 15 is legally able to consent to sexual activity with someone who is no more than 5 years older than the youth in question. Similarly, someone who is 12 or 13 is able to consent to sexual activity with someone no more than 2 years older than themselves. Adolescents cannot be charged for consensual sexual activity but any and all non-consensual contact is still illegal.

Canadian statistics on sexual assault and abuse show that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience unwanted sexual acts before the age of 18. The majority of these incidents happen during adolescence and 95% of victims know the person that abused them. All unwanted sexual contact is sexual assault, which is against the law regardless of the ages of the people involved.

Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre offers immediate sexual assault crisis intervention through the Sexual Assault Recovery and Healing (SARAH) program. When someone experiences a sexual assault, a SARAH worker is available at any time of day or night to assist them at the RCMP detachment or at the hospital. Read more information about myths and facts about sexual assault.

Everyone should take a moment to educate themselves on what the criminal code has to say about this issue because we are all responsible to look out for the children and youth in our communities.

Book Review: A House in the Sky

A House in the SkyA House in the Sky

By: Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Amanda Lindhout grew up reading National Geographic in the security of her bedroom to escape domestic violence in her home.  The glossy magazine photos launched her into far off lands to escape the violence close at hand.

Fifteen years later Amanda was off travelling the world to explore those National Geographic locations.  Her worldly adventures were financed by her waitressing job in Calgary.  She was in her early twenties, wandering the world six months of the year, soaking up the culture, and feeling invincible.   As Amanda sought greater adventures she traveled to less pedestrian travel locations and more often to conflict hot-spots.  Not wanting to break from her adventures to return to waitressing in Canada, Amanda worked to develop a career in journalism to support her adventurous lifestyle while on the road.  With little journalism experience or understanding of political terrorism she stepped into Somalia.

Just days after arriving in Somalia with her photojournalist companion, Nigel Brennan, Amanda and Nigel were kidnapped by jihadists and held for ransom.  Their captivity lasted 15 months.  The $3 million ransom was beyond possible for Amanda’s father living on disability and her mother working a minimum wage job.  Nigel’s family were middle class but “mortgaged to the eyeballs.”  Both the Canadian and Australian governments refused to assist with the ransom.  Amanda and Nigel believed they would likely die in Somali.

Fifteen months into captivity, a reduced ransom was paid and Amanda was released.  Amanda’s ordeal in Somalia was brutal.  Sara Corbet, from the New York Times Magazine, assisted Amanda in telling her story.   Amanda’s hope and strength held her together from one day to the next during captivity.  Her capacity to deal with nonstop cruelty surpassed the ability of most human beings.   Amanda’s hope and strength is inspirational and, for this reason, the book is worth the read.

Most amazing, however, is the story that continues after you close the book.  I couldn’t let her story go after the last page so jumped on Google to see what had become of this young woman.  I discovered Amanda Lindhout has returned to Somalia with her organization, The Global Enrichment Foundation, to advocate for improvements for young Somali women.

A House in the Sky is available through the Pinawa Public Library.

Book review by Holly.