Policy Option 1: Transform education curriculum in every province and territory

To ensure that every student, at every level, is exposed to, and understands basic topics in this area, including:

  • Different forms of gender identity and expressions

  • Stereotypes and their negative consequences in continuing gender-based violence

  • The ways that coercion and power imbalances in sexual activity constitutes assault

  • How to always obtain consent

  • Ways to get assistance following an incident of abuse or violence

DEFINITION

Gender Identity

One’s experience of one’s gender, it could correlate to assigned sex at birth or differ from it.

DEFINITION

Gender Expression

Independent from gender identity, gender expressions are the aspects of a person’s appearance, behaviour, mannerisms, and interests; which are associated with gender in a cultural context. Specifically categories of femininity or masculinity.

Evidence and Arguments/ Challenges:

  • Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that only 1 out of every 3 Canadians understand what consent means

  • Ensuring that students are exposed to ideas of consent at a young age (for example, in kindergarten on hugging other children) through high school (about sexual consent), we can help to address gender-based violence at the root causes.

  • Consent education can help to address stereotypes of roles and gender, sexual consent, consent under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the new role of technology in consent, power dynamics, and the responsibilities of obtaining consent.

  • Through education, we can help build the first generation free of violence against women. This will help women thrive, contribute to the economic and social development of Canada, and reach their full potential.

  • Getting all provinces/territories to reform their consent education across every level of schooling to become more thorough, modernized, and proactive in preventing gender-based violence

    • Resources to do this may also be a barrier

  • There may be regional resistance to this work, including from those who may not believe in sexual education or the realities of sexual violence. Getting those with influence to support this may be a key factor to success.

Counter-arguments:

  • The government has resource constraints in which updating sexual education curriculum may not viewed as a priority.

  • Some parents do not want the curriculum updated as they believe that this will encourage their children to engage in sex (note: studies show that this is a myth).

  • Consent education is included in various ways in the curriculum.

  • Reluctant school boards and provincial/territorial governments to acknowledge the prevalence of gender based violence and the need to reform policies that contribute to it

Key Stakeholders

  • Federal and provincial/territorial governments; Ministers of Justice; Ministers of Education; Solicitor general; teachers’ unions

  • Federal and provincial/territorial governments, provincial and territorial Ministers of Education, school boards, school trustees, school divisions, teachers, students, public interest groups

Resources required:

  • Greater identification of consent education across every province/territory

Policy Option 2: Enact federal safety legislation mandating all post-secondary campuses in Canada has comprehensive policies, resources, and support centers to respond to and prevent gender based violence

To ensure that all students across Canada have access to safe and inclusive learning environments where discussions of consent are central, and techniques to respond to and prevent gender based violence reach all students

Evidence and Arguments/ Challenges

  • Up to 44% of women experience sexual violence or unwanted touching during their university studies. Many of these women will never report their stories, others will have nowhere to report them, and some will be invalidated by their educational institution

  • This can have tremendous consequences, including causing students to be unable to heal, causing them to drop out of school, or triggering the re-traumatization of their experiences (through continued exposure to their perpetrator).

  • All women should have access to safe learning environments where they feel safe and embraced. This is a national safety issue, and again, hinders economic development in Canada, as in some of these cases, these survivors will be unable to reach their full potential.

  • Getting provinces/territories to legislate similar policies and requirements for post-secondary campuses.

  • Framing this as a public safety issue for the federal government.

  • Overcoming victim blaming attitudes.

  • Getting acknowledgement of this as an issue and the need for comprehensive and proactive response

Counter-arguments:

  • The federal government should not mandate this for the entire country. Every community has different sized campuses, needs and culture, which require individualized and personalized responses

Key Stakeholders

  • Federal minister of public safety, provincial/territorial ministers of education, post-secondary campus administrators, postsecondary offices on Sexual Violence or Conflict Management, post-secondary students’ unions

  • Post-secondary institutions that have adopted comprehensive strategies on this topic, women’s groups, student unions, post-secondary community clinics, post-secondary women’s centers.

Resources required:

  • Institutions in Canada and their policies, centers and resources on this, statistics on violence on post-secondary campuses, etc.

Policy Option 3: Ensure that all provinces and territories have shelters and resources accessible to women fleeing domestic violence

To ensure that no woman or child is stuck in an incidence of domestic violence. This means ensuring that resource centers are more widely dispersed in Canada, with information stations in communities that are small and remote. These information centers can include transportation subsidies for women in financial need that have to physically leave their community in order to get services and support.

DEFINITION

Intergenerational Trauma

The transmission of historical oppression and its negative consequences across generations. There is evidence the impact of intergenerational trauma on the health and well-being on health and social disparities facing indigenous peoples in Canada.

There is a need to include greater access points for women from communities that are isolated (especially northern and rural areas) from service providers. For instance, the prevalence of violent crime in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon has been partially attributed to intergenerational trauma, the trauma of sexual and physical abuse, the frequency of suicide, the pervasiveness of addiction, the geographic isolation, as well as the lack of social services.

Colonialism, the legacy of residential schools, and intergenerational trauma plays a critical role in many of these communities and contributes to the rates of trauma, assault, and abuse. Survivors, families, and communities need to access the necessary resources to address instances of violence, assault, and programs that recognize and address these wider contributing factors, shelters and resources, which practice cultural sensitivity.

Recent changes to Canadian immigration policy mean fewer social and health supports for immigrant women with a precarious immigration status - putting them at an increased risk of violence.

Evidence and Arguments/Challenges:

  • Where one lives should not dictate the services that they are able to receive in Canada. Rural and northern communities have substantially less access to these resources and supports than those living in urban centers. Furthermore, information on these topics is more widely available to those in urban centers, English speakers, or are more culturally familiar with Canada.

  • Greater outreach must be done to ensure that all communities are safe, and are adequately equipped with the supports required to ensure that all feel safe, or know what to do if they don’t.

  • Gathering resources and means to ensure that supports are accessible to all – geographically, language, and culture.

  • Ensuring that women are aware of the existence of these resources and supports

Counter-arguments:

  • There is access to information online (overlooks computer skills, language skills, literacy, sightlessness)

  • These centers exist generally within all regions of Canada and women and children can find their way to the ones that do exist

  • Potential government funding constraints

Key Stakeholders

  • Provincial governments, provincial Ministers of Family, the Federal government, the Federal Minister of Public Safety, Federal Minister of the Status of Women, domestic violence and crisis centers. There is also an opportunity to create public transportation partnerships.

  • Women’s groups, some political parties, public interest groups, women’s crisis centers, community clinics, women’s hospitals, women’s and children’s shelters, ending violence against women groups.

Resources required:

  • Ideas about how to propose increasing access to resources and support within ‘funding constraints’ of the government and service providers

  • Greater funding for the establishment of either support centers or access points for isolated and remote communities

  • Training of people working or volunteering in these centers

  • Funding for printing and distributing resources

  • Funding or partnerships for transportation subsides

  • Awareness raising, myth dispelling, advertising and promotion of the existence of these resources

  • Availability of pet-safekeeping programs, so those experiencing domestic violence do not remain in abusive situations due to the lack of pet-friendly shelters

  • Some political parties (including those trying to constrain spending who view this as costly).

gbv