May 25th, 2024

Sexual assault centre hoping for government funding

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 2, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Minister of Children and Family Services Searle Turton announced Tuesday the provincial government will be providing additional funding to multiple sexual assault centres across the province and the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre is hoping to be one of them.
Turton said during a press conference Tuesday that since May is Sexual Violence Awareness month, a month to raise awareness, to challenge attitudes and promote a culture of consent, it was the right time to make the announcement.
“Survivors should be able to access critical supports and compassionate care that they need when they need it. And that’s why I’m so proud to announce that we’re delivering on our commitment to provide sexual assault centres and additional $10 million over 3 years,” said Turton.
He explained $3 million will be rolled out this year, bringing the total annual investment in sexual assault centres to nearly $17 million. Centres will also receive another $3 million in 2025-2026 and $4 million in 2026-2027 to ensure that they can continue their critical work to support and empower survivors no matter where they are in their healing journey.
Turton said the funds will be distributed the same way they distributed funds for women shelters.
“We will be holding a round table with sexual assault centres in the upcoming weeks. This will allow government to hear directly from centres and those who work with survivors every day on how this finding can best address their urgent needs while making sure that resources are available everywhere in the province,” said Turton.
Kristine Cassie, CEO of Chinook Sexual Assault Centre here in Lethbridge, told the Herald Wednesday during a phone interview that they are hoping to be the recipients of some of that funding.
“We don’t know what the final number would look like for the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre, but we are hopeful that we will be one of the recipients,” said Cassie.
She said receiving funding would allow the centre to expand summer therapy services, as the current wait list for therapy is six months.
Cassie said the announcement happening at the cusp of the sexual violence awareness month was very helpful in bringing awareness to the matter.
“It’s a great way to let it be known that this is an issue that we’re dealing with and that the province has a commitment towards addressing sexual violence. So, I think that’s really wonderful that they chose this time to make that announcement,” said Cassie.
She said is great to have a month dedicated to bringing awareness to sexual violence, as it brings awareness to the issues they are dealing with.
“Part of it is we know with education that the more people are aware, the more they get educated about what the issues are, the better we are all able to address the things that are happening in our society, or with our neighbours, or with people that we care about,” said Cassie.
She said this include having the ability to help people seek help when they need it, interject ourselves in situations that might lead to sexual assault happening and being able to help someone else out.
“Being able to call out rapists and be able to have that type of dialogue with someone, to let them know what is healthy in a relationship and what is not is something proactive that we could all take part in,” said Cassie.
 She said basically being able to use this month to highlight some of the services they offer.
“To be able to put names to what we’re dealing with is really critical for our community,” said Cassie.
She said to bring awareness to sexual violence this month, they are hosting a variety of events including “Ink for change” raffle to win some time with a tattoo artist from a selection of local artist that are taking part of it. For this people can obtain links to purchase tickets through the centre.
“We’re really excited with that one, as we hope to make some money to help us support some of our therapy services,” said Cassie.
 They are also doing some work around grad week and consent events with their new to be graduated from high school students throughout southwestern Alberta.
 Cassie added that Lethbridge City Hall will have some teal lights lit up on May 6, and they are hoping for people to take their photos there and share them to social media to spread awareness.
 “We’re doing a “You have the Power” workshop, which is based on sexual harassment in the workplace, but is geared towards the Spanish speaking population,” said Cassie.
 She said two staff members are Spanish speakers and will be hosting the event at Casa on May 9 at 6 p.m. at no cost to the public.
 “We’re doing a secondary trauma day at Galt Museum where we’re inviting guests take part in a day long training on secondary trauma or vicarious trauma. And this is geared towards people who work at victim service units,” said Cassie.
 She said this is important because those working at the hospital or with policing agencies that help support sexual assault victims, are usually first on scene or are the first ones to hear the information and hearing a lot of very heavy, dramatic stories.
 “Sometimes caregivers take those on themselves, so this is about how they take care of them,” said Cassie.

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