As BC’s Emergency Sexual Assault Services (ESAS) program wraps up, frontline workers from more than 50 programs from around the province had the opportunity to connect in person and celebrate their achievements.
On January 25 and 26, 115 frontline workers met in Richmond BC for two days of inspiration by thought-provoking speakers and performers. It was also the first time most had met each other in person. Many found comfort in building relationships with other programs working with survivors of sexual assault across the province. Workers expressed appreciation for the chance to meet face-to-face in a safe space.
The first-day kicked off with a welcome from Musqueam Educator and Knowledge Keeper Debra Sparrow and a keynote speech from Elaine Alec, who is an author, teacher and a direct descendant of hereditary chiefs from the Sylix and Secwepemc Nations. In her presentation, Cultivating Safe Spaces, Elaine shared ideas to help shift perspectives to focus on wellbeing, connection, and belonging and work towards decolonization and reconciliation. Before an afternoon of sharing ideas on supporting survivors, wellness, and organizational change and growth, everyone watched the one-person performance of Meghan Gardiner’s play, Dissolve, that provided the perspective of a survivor of sexual assault as well as of the bystanders (presented by Shameless Hussy Productions.)
On day two, Kathi Camilleri led an all-day program, Paddling Together in Reconciliation, leading attendees through an activity that demonstrated the impacts of colonization. Participants had the opportunity to develop a deeper insight into the depth of and the intergenerational effects of colonization and learn ways for creating supportive cross-cultural relationships. People worked together to build on their own reconciliation growth and further develop their organizational actions for decolonization.
We thank everyone who took part in this celebration.
Programs wishing to apply for the new Sexual Assault Services funding (managed by the BC Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General – MPSSG) have until February 21, 2023. See the Call for Responses for Sexual Assault Services Programs for details on the application process, criteria and deadlines.
Photo: Part of a graphic recording of the outcomes of Paddling Together in Reconciliation, recorded by Chris Camilleri.