We Have the Courage to Act: A National Collaboration To Address and Prevent Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions in Canada

Presented by: Farrah Khan, Anoodth Naushan, Britney De Costa, Deb Eerkes, Jenn Flood, and CJ Rowe.
This Resource Spotlight was presented and recorded on May 3, 2022.

There is an urgent need to address and prevent gender-based violence (GBV) at Canadian post-secondary institutions (PSIs). Survivors, student advocates, postsecondary faculty, staff and administrators, parents, and gender-based violence organizations are pushing for transformative change, requiring collaboration and courageous action. 

In this Resource Spotlight, presenters shared the work of Courage to Act, a multi-year national initiative to address and prevent GBV at PSIs in Canada. Led by Possibility Seeds, a social change consultancy that works alongside communities, organizations, and institutions to cultivate gender equity, it builds on key recommendations from the vital 2019 Courage to Act report. The project is the first collaborative to bring together over 170 of Canada’s top GBV campus experts and advocates.

Over five years, our national network of student leaders, survivors, frontline workers, legal experts, union leaders, and post-secondary educators, staff and administrators will work together to: 

  • Develop a national repository of 45 practical tools and toolkits to address GBV at PSIs in Canada
  • Lead national skillshare series, webinar series, podcasts and professional development opportunities to explore the many ways communities are working together to address GBV on campus.
  • Spearhead two national research-to-action projects to address critical gender-based violence prevention and response gaps. 
  • Leverage our groundbreaking research, resources, and national networks in collaboration with PSIs, provincial and territorial governments, student unions, and others to focus on widespread knowledge mobilization and systems change. 

Watch the Resource Spotlight recording to learn more about their work and ways you can get involved!

Resource Spotlight Recording

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Learning Objectives

  • Understand the current prevalence of GBV at post-secondary institutions in Canada, as well as promising practices, policies and strategies to address this issue;
  • Learn about the range of community-based, collaboratively-created, peer-reviewed resources to inform GBV prevention and intervention efforts at PSIs across Canada;
  • Learn about how you and your PSI can take effective action to address and prevent GBV on campus.


farrah.pngFarrah Khan (she/her), Project Director spent two decades working diligently to raise awareness about the connection between equity and gender-based violence through education, resource creation, and project management. She is the manager of Consent Comes First Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education at Ryerson University, is the founder of Possibility Seeds Consulting, and is a member of the Government of Canada's Federal Strategy Against Gender-based Violence Advisory Council. Farrah is the recipient of numerous awards including the Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital People Award.


anoodth.pngAnoodth Naushan (she/her), Project Manager is a researcher, educator, and skilled problem-solver who finds joy in supporting people and projects to advance gender, racial and economic justice. She works at the intersection of program, policy and campaign design, resource mobilization, and community capacity building. Empathy, curiosity, collaboration, radical imagination, justice and equity are at the heart of her work. Anoodth holds a Masters in Social Policy and Social Research from UCL. 



britney.pngBritney De Costa (she/her), Reporting, Investigations and Adjudication Working Group Co-Lead and Experiential Learning Project Lead is a settler living and working in Thadinadonnih, or “the place where they built,” territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. She is a researcher and policy analyst who holds a Master of Social Work and a Master of Laws from the University of Windsor where she learned from students, community advocates, and critical scholars who informed her approach to systemic, community-led advocacy. Britney brings experience working for poverty reduction, disability justice, and access to education, and most recently worked at the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance as staff support for student leaders advocating for safe and accessible post-secondary education in the province. Britney is passionate about gender justice and brings experience from her time as a student advocate educating others and raising awareness of the prevalence of gender-based violence on campuses and in the community. Her work with Courage to Act focuses on creating safer, trauma-informed complaints processes and addressing the gaps that make students vulnerable to sexual harassment in experiential or work-based learning.

deb.pngDeb Eerkes (she/her), Reporting, Investigations and Adjudication Working Group Co-Lead is the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator at the University of Alberta. Her role includes reviewing  and strengthening institutional policy and procedures, ensuring training programs are accessible and reflect best practices, and building a network of expertise and resources across the institution. Deb has formerly held a number of positions and responsibilities at the University of Alberta, including Student Ombudsperson, University Discipline Officer, Human Rights Officer and Director of Student Conduct & Accountability. She has been a key participant and leader of many institutional initiatives, including development of the Sexual Violence Policy suite, the restorative justice program in University residences, the Helping Individual at Risk policy suite, and the academic integrity program.

jenn.pngJenn Flood (she/her), Education Lead is a queer mixed Métis Indigenous woman with English and Irish settler ancestry, currently residesing in Tkaranto. Jenn has spent seven years working in the gender-based violence/sexual violence prevention education field at post-secondary institutions. She has been involved in the Courage to Act movement since 2019, co-authoring the project’s new Education & Training Toolkit and now serves as the Education Lead with the project. She has facilitated and delivered hundreds of discussions, conversations and training on campus GBV/SV prevention education and has led institution-wide efforts at Humber College and the University of Toronto. In her practice, Jenn continues to advocate and make space for those living at the intersections of 2SQTBIPOC identities and is determined to make a difference in providing trauma-informed and culturally-grounded practices in her work.

cj.pngFor over two decades, CJ Rowe (they/them) has been working to develop educational campaigns and research projects that critically engage with such issues as transgender justice, LGBTQ2S youth leadership, gender-based violence prevention and trauma-informed services. CJ holds a PhD in Education from the University of British Columbia and is presently the Director of SFU’s Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office where they work with a team to support individuals impacted by sexual violence, develop sexual violence intervention and prevention educational campaigns, learning opportunities and initiatives and works closely with the University to implement and operationalize policy. Over the last three plus years, CJ has held different roles with the Courage to Act project and is presently a co-lead with the Project’s Advisory Committee.