Did You Know Campaign – Sexual Misconduct Policy

Land Acknowledgement:

It is important to begin with an acknowledgement that UBCO is located on the ancestral and unceded lands of the Syilx Okanagan nation. The term “unceded” means that the land was never surrendered to the Canadian government or to previous colonial governments. The land and the resources have been stolen through ongoing and violent processes of settler-colonialism. Those of us who are not Syilx Okanagan must therefore recognize that we are guests on this land and act accordingly. This means affirming and following the leadership of the Indigenous people who have acted as stewards of this land from time immemorial. It also means working continuously towards reconciliation by strengthening, maintaining, and building relations of reciprocity and respect with Indigenous peoples and with the land and environment that sustains us all.

Whenever we speak of or write about sexualized violence, it is important that we centre settler-colonialism as one of the root causes of sexualized violence in our society. Throughout Canadian colonial history, sexualized violence has been used as a method of genocide and conquest. We can witness this in the stories of abuse shared by survivors of residential “schools”. But we must also recognize that colonial sexualized violence is ongoing. We can witness this in the high and continually rising rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. Centering settler-colonialism as a root cause of sexualized violence means recognizing that colonial violence on the land, and theft of resources through the extraction industries, is not separate from the colonial violence directed at Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people.

When we strive to build a “consent culture” in opposition to the rape-supportive culture that allows for sexualized violence to happen in the first place, it is important that our efforts centre the ongoing struggle for Indigenous sovereignty. The Canadian settler-colonial government and the imperialist, multinational corporations who operate on this land routinely and systemically use Canadian law to override and/or coerce the consent of Indigenous nations. These actions deny both pre-existing Indigenous legal systems and principles as well as the rights of Indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent under international law as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Working towards a consent culture, we must extend our advocacy around the rights of individuals to bodily-autonomy to include the rights of Indigenous nations to self-determination. We must also recognize and continue to follow the lead of Indigenous women and two-spirit people who have been at the forefront of revitalizing consent culture and pushing for a more just world and healthy planet for us all.

Restoring Choice:

Did You Know… That UBCO will always try to respect and follow the wishes of survivors. Survivors can reach out to SVPRO in order to get support, accommodations, and explore their options. They will not be pressured into making an official report.

At the centre of many people’s experiences with sexualized violence is the denial of their rights to make decisions about what happens to their own body. This denial of bodily autonomy is one of the most harmful aspects of sexualized violence. It sends the message that, “you don’t matter” because your desires, your rights, your boundaries, your safety, and your well-being have all been completely disregarded by those who chose to harm you. When we are supporting survivors of sexualized violence it is incredibly important to restore choice as much as possible. This is one way of reminding survivors that, “you DO matter”.

At SVPRO we take a survivor-centred approach. This means that our work centres around believing survivors and supporting them in a wide variety of ways. We recognize that no two experiences of sexualized violence are exactly the same. Intersections of oppression and inequality, past histories of trauma, personality differences, connections to community, as well as physical and mental health are just some of the factors that can affect how a person experiences sexualized violence. Because each person’s experience is so different, it is important that we don’t follow a pre-written script when responding to survivors. Instead we take the time to listen to survivors, to inform them of options, and to support their decisions.

When someone comes to SVPRO it is important that they know that:
– We will never pressure them to share more than they are comfortable sharing.
– We will never pressure them to make an official report to the university or to the police.
– We will not impose labels on them or on what happened. It is always up to the individual if they want to identify as a “survivor”, a “victim”, or something else entirely.
– We will maintain confidentiality. We will not share their story with anyone unless they give us permission to do so.

At SVPRO we can offer survivors:
– A space to share their story or experience even if it is not something that occurred recently or on campus.
– A chance to explore different options for reporting if that is something that they are interested in.
– Referrals to counselling and/or medical appointments if that is something they feel they need.
– Accompaniment and/or transportation to places such as medical appointments, the hospital, the police station, court, victim’s services, campus security, etc…
– Access to emergency housing on or off campus.
– Access to academic and/or workplace accommodations.
– Assistance creating a safety plan.
– Group sessions that explore topics such as healthy relationships, self-care, and healing from trauma.

These are just some of the ways that we can offer support to survivors at SVPRO. If you feel that you have a unique need related to support but you do not see it listed as one of the examples above, we encourage you to reach out to us and we will do our best to meet that need or to connect you with someone else who can.

Survivors do NOT need to know what they want to do before they decide to come and speak with us. That is something we can help them to talk through by sharing some of the options available. We will do our best to provide a range of options and to answer any questions that survivors have about these options so that they feel confident making informed decisions.

At SVPRO we are here to make sure that survivors do not have to navigate pathways to healing, justice, or support on their own. It can be incredibly daunting and overwhelming for survivors to reach out and tell their story over and over again as they try to get support and accommodations from all of the different offices on and off campus including student housing, the professors teaching their classes, and campus security among others. When survivors come to SVPRO we will try our best to make sure that they only have to share their story once. As advocates, we are able to reach out to all of those different campus offices and contacts, allowing survivors to focus on the important work of taking care of themselves.

Overall, the most important thing to know about SVPRO is that we are here to support all survivors of sexualized and gender-based violence at UBCO including both full-time and part-time students, faculty, and staff. Our doors are open to anyone of any gender.

We believe you. You are not alone.