Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Chicoutimi, and Rimouski, April 6 2017
Full open letter available here: https://aveq-nous.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Open-Letter-Sexual-Violence-Consultations-3.pdf
Today, eleven student and survivor-focused groups released a statement advocating for a survivor-centric response by the province to sexual violence. As groups which had been both included or excluded from of the Ministry of Education and Post-Secondary Education’s consultation on sexual violence, they offered reflections and critiques on the process thus far, as well as pragmatic next steps for the development of meaningful legislation to address the issue.
They expressed appreciation for the indication of good faith by many actors who participated, but also noted several areas for future improvement. Despite concrete suggestions being provided in advance, there was very little accommodation available to support participation by survivors, and the lack of bi-directional translation rendered the events inaccessible to many, particularly members of anglophone universities.
Lana Gailbraith, Sustainability Coordinator of the Concordia Student Union (CSU), notes “We were not invited until the very last minute, and then were allotted only one seat for participation. How can these consultations tackle a complex topic like sexual violence on campuses if they are not doing their due diligence in terms of inviting those who are the most targeted — students and survivors.”
Furthermore, they expressed concern that the government depended too heavily on education institutions’ upper administration in conducting campus consultations and recommending participants for the government’s reflection days. As a result, many important voices were underrepresented throughout the process, including those of young people, survivors, people of colour and Indigenous people.
“Recognizing that Concordia students, especially survivors, are best positioned to make recommendations on how to prevent and respond to sexual violence, both at the university level and to inform creation of legislation, we partnered with the CSU to host our own consultation on campus. We were disappointed to not have seen those same efforts from the university administration,” says Stacey Gomez, Action Coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy.
The groups collectively called for meaningful and ongoing consultation to be conducted throughout the creation of legislation, and for this legislation to include mandatory sexual violence policies, accountability mechanisms, and a commitment to equitably distribute resources in a way that especially supports existing community groups and regional post-secondary institutions.
“When it comes to the complex issue of sexual violence, we must not only be learning and working together on improving, but also holding each other accountable to a higher standard. Above all, we must never forget to centre the needs and experiences of survivors.” affirmed Kristen Perry, anglophone spokesperson for the Association for the Voice of Education of Quebec (AVEQ).
Advisor to the Executive for AVEQ
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