Status of Women Canada - Engaging Young People to Prevent Violence against Women on Post-Secondary Campuses: The Ontario Projects

Learning Network Brief 10

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Status of Women Canada – Engaging Young People to Prevent Violence against Women on Post-Secondary Campuses: The Ontario Projects .  Learning Network Brief (10).  London, Ontario: Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (September 2013).

This is a refereed publication.  The views expressed in this brief are those of the content contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Province or the Learning Network, Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children. While all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, no liability is assumed for any errors or omissions.

The Learning Network is an initiative of the Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children, based at the Faculty of Education, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.

In 2012, Status of Women Canada provided twenty-one Canadian organizations with two-year funding to promote equality and reduce gender-based violence on college and university campuses.  All projects build partnerships and collaboration between campuses and community stakeholders, identify factors associated with violence on campus, and develop responses to gender-based violence within their campus community.  A complete list of all 21 organizations across Canada who received funding is provided at the end of this Brief. This Brief describes the seven projects within the initiative that are based in Ontario.  More information can be obtained by following up with the contacts and links provided within each project description.  The Learning Network team thanks all who provided write-ups on these exciting projects.

Students Supporting Students Against Abuse

Yellow Brick House and Seneca College have partnered together under the Status of Women Canada project to “Engage young people to prevent violence against women on post–secondary campuses.” The project identifies issues of violence affecting students on campus and reviews institutional barriers and other factors that limit Seneca College’s efforts to address the issue of violence against women and men.  Students and stakeholder teams are expanding their understanding of the sources of abuse and are working together to develop strategies to prevent and reduce gender-based violence in their campus community.  A gender-based analysis (GBA) was conducted using qualitative and quantitative data collected from surveys, focus groups, and campus safety assessments conducted with the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence against Women and Children (METRAC).  The purpose of the GBA was to examine the issue of violence against students using diverse groups in order to represent the realities of all Seneca College students.  A key finding was the importance in addressing violence on post-secondary campuses in a way that engaged students, i.e., building bystander capacity.  For instance, the students from the Graphic Design for Social Change developed a marketing campaign aptly branded Students Supporting Students, Taking a Stand against Abuse.  The goal of the campaign is to engage students in being proactive and involved in helping to prevent violence on post-secondary campuses.  You can follow Students Supporting Students, Taking a Stand against Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.  The campaign is still in its early stages of development.  For more information, please contact Pamela Nitert.

The Change Project

The Change Project is a collaboration between the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC), the Social Innovation Research Group (SIRG), the Centre for Women and Trans People*, the UW Women’s Centre, the Diversity & Equity Office at Laurier, Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU), and the University of Waterloo (UW). The project relies heavily on the involvement and leadership of students. The Change Project is grounded in a framework of university-community collaboration.

The purpose of the Change Project is to develop and implement comprehensive approaches for preventing and responding to gendered violence against students at WLU and UW.  With the support of an inter-university/community Advisory Committee, the project team has undertaken data collection to assess the current strengths and needs of the local universities and surrounding community in addressing gendered violence against students. This has included conversations with students, staff and faculty, and community-based organizations and local businesses in the surrounding community of Waterloo. In addition, the project team is conducting a policy scan to describe the current state of policies that address gendered violence at Canadian universities and to identify promising practices in higher education policy interventions.  For more information, please visit or contact the Project Coordinator Jay Harrison.

Making Noise @ Humber

Making Noise @ Humber is an initiative developed in collaboration with the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR), Humber College, and the Humber Students’ Federation (HSF).  The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness on preventing violence against women/gender-based violence at the North and Lakeshore campus.  The project dedicated Year I to researching current awareness of gender-based violence on campus with surveys, on-campus safety walkabouts, and focus groups. The data collected was analyzed to identify service gaps and make recommendations on how to use existing resources to address these gaps. Year II will involve implementing these recommendations as well as delivering gender-based violence workshops, resource materials and a toolkit, all of which will be distributed at an Awareness Week in March 2014 and ending with International Women’s Day.  The UARR is committed to achieving a violent free world. We believe education is a beacon for transformative change.  To learn more about this initiative, please visit or contact the Project Coordinator Jason Merai. You can also follow the UARR on Facebook and Twitter


CampUS is a joint initiative between Interim Place (an organization that provides shelter and support services for women and children fleeing violence in Peel Region) and the University of Toronto Mississauga.  The purpose of the initiative is to build partnerships and collaboration between campus and community stakeholders in order to identify and respond to the specific needs of young women on campus.  Students will play an integral role in identifying the issues of violence affecting young women on their campus and expand their understanding of these issues in order to help prevent and reduce gender-based violence on campus.  The goals of the initiative are to conduct a campus safety audit; research the experiences of young women on UTM’s campus; develop a community campus safety plan; develop and implement an education, awareness and prevention campaign; and document and share best practices with other campuses.  The project is currently in year two with the community plan recently being completed. To learn more about the project, contact Project Manager Jacqueline Benn-John.


Build.Act.Change. Preventing Violence Together (BAC) is a new initiative between partners at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) and Scarborough Women’s Centre.  The purpose of the initiative is to BUILD awareness of how violence affects women on post-secondary campuses and ACT to promote a campus community that creates positive CHANGE by working together to prevent violence. BAC works in person and online through social media to debunk violence against women myths; provide resources where women may seek support on- and off-campus; educate students on how to support those experiencing violence; and shares inspirational stories about local and international activists working to prevent violence.  To date, the project manager and student outreach team have engaged more than 700 students who have participated in accessible safety audits, training sessions, discussion cafes, film screenings, plays, and self-defense workshops. You can follow BAC on Twitter or visit their website.  For more information, please contact the Project Manager Reshma Dhrodia.

IT’S TIME to End Violence against Women on Campus!

Facilitated by the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area (SACHA), in partnership with the YWCA Hamilton and members of the McMaster University student body, faculty and staff, the IT’S TIME project has been up and running for the past year on McMaster University’s main campus in Hamilton. Aimed at addressing all forms of violence against younger women, the project seeks to engage students in outlining their experiences of gender based violence as expressed in the cultural norms and traditions of campus life, while also working to improve physical safety on campus and responses to disclosures of violence. Similar to the other projects funded by the Status of Women Canada, the IT’S TIME project has conducted focus groups with students and key informant interviews across the varying sections of campus life, along with a safety audit conducted by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) to better understand the particularities of McMaster regarding initiatives that are working well and areas for improvement to VAW services, knowledge and resources.  As September 2013 gets underway, the project is now moving to its implementation phase – putting recommendations into action.  A key component will be the campus education and awareness campaign. Stay in touch via Facebook and Twitter!  For more information, please contact the Project Coordinator Meaghan Ross

Click here to read an article that describes a new security app for students on McMaster University campus

RISE: React. Intervene. Support. Educate.

Using Technology to Address Gender Based Violence on Campuses

In March 2012, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), in partnership with the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC), received funding from Status of Women Canada to address gender based violence on local university and college campuses. The project had three defined components which included research on student perceptions of violence against women, engaging stakeholders on campuses, and developing the social media application, RISE (React. Intervene. Support. Educate.). The RISE app provides users with tools to help prevent and respond to sexual assaults and intimate partner violence on campuses and in community settings. It includes education on the bystander approach, the continuum of violence, safe situational intervention tools, and local community resources. The content of the app was based on a year long process of collecting and reflecting upon ideas and experiences from diverse people who took part in research on campuses and in communities around Ottawa. Moreover, this app is based on the ideas and experiences from student and community led steering committees. OCTEVAW recognizes that this app will continue to evolve to reflect new scenarios and lived experiences of users; therefore users are encouraged to contact the Coalition to share their personal stories in order to further understanding, intervention and prevention of sexual and intimate partner violence.  The overall OCTEVAW and ORCC project was overwhelmingly supported by Ottawa University, Carleton University, La Cité collégiale, and Algonquin College. Additionally the project engaged local community service members and campus students.  For more information on the overall project or the RISE app, please contact the Coordinator Dillon Black.

The twenty-one organizations that received funding from Status of Women Canada – Engaging Young People to Prevent Violence against Women on Post-Secondary Campuses:

  1. Corner Brook Status of Women Council (CBSWC), Corner Brook, NL.
  2. Mount Allison Students' Union, Sackville, NB.
  3. Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, Inc. (FSACC), Fredericton NB.
  4. Collectivité ingénieuse de la Péninsule acadienne Inc., Paquetville, NB.
  5. Antigonish Women's Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association,
    Antigonish, NS.
  6. Association chrétienne des jeunes femmes de Montréal (Y des femmes/YWCA Montréal), Montréal, QC.
  7. La Pointe du jour CALACS Sept-Îles, Sept-Îles, QC.
  8. Interim Place, Mississauga, ON.
  9. Ottawa Coalition to End Violence against Women, Ottawa, ON.
  10. Scarborough Women's Centre, Scarborough, ON.
  11. Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area (SACHA), McMaster University,
    Hamilton, ON.
  12. Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Toronto, ON.
  13. Yellow Brick House, Richmond Hill, ON.
  14. Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, Kitchener, ON.
  15. Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, Edmonton, AB.
  16. Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, Edmonton, AB.
  17. University of Alberta, Student's Union, Edmonton, AB.
  18. YWCA Lethbridge and District, Lethbridge, AB.
  19. Alberni Community and Women's Services Society, Port Alberni, BC.
  20. MOSAIC (Multilingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities),
    Vancouver, BC.
  21. Royal Roads University Student Association, Victoria, BC.