May 18, 2016 4:36 pm
Updated: May 18, 2016 7:05 pm

‘I didn’t know what a rape kit was’: Ex-Calgary student pushes for sex-ed curriculum changes

WATCH ABOVE: She’s only 19, but Natasha Kornak is fighting to have Alberta schools give students more tools for dealing with sexual violence. As Sarah Offin reports, she’s taking her concerns straight to the Legislature.

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She’s only 19 years old, but a former Calgary student has a big project on her hands when it comes to how sexual education is taught in the province.

Natasha Kornak is fighting to have Alberta schools give students more tools for dealing with sexual violence.

“Sexual violence isn’t just an education issue. It’s a public health issue,” Kornak said, thumbing through books on sexual assault and abuse at the University of Calgary’s Health Sciences Library.

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She recently returned home to Calgary following her first year at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

“I realized just how prevalent campus sexual assault is after learning some of my own friends had experienced sexual violence. I realized just how little my education in Alberta had prepared me for the aftermath of sexual assault,” Kornak said.

“I didn’t know what (is commonly referred to as) a rape kit was or where I could get it. I also didn’t know what the legal system was like – who I could report to or what the aftermath of me reporting would look like. I realized that that had never been discussed in any of my sexual education classes – none of them.”

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It’s an ongoing concern for the Calgary Sexual Health Centre. They see the impact on the uninformed firsthand.

“Young people aren’t getting consistent education,” president and CEO Pam Krause said. “They don’t know where to go. They don’t know what to do, either, after an assault or if they’re trying to help a friend that has been assaulted. I think we have to find consistent ways of having messages and resources available.”

That’s just what Kornak is trying to do. Her online petition has over 16,000 signatures. She’s also reaching out directly to the provincial government and the department of education – pressuring them to include more information about sexual violence in the school curriculum.

“I think that the petition is a good sign. It demonstrates that people are interested in engaging, and makes sure that kids are protected,” Minister of Education David Eggen said.

What’s more, it’s something the province says they’re working to change.

“We’re looking at strengthening the message around security and safety for individuals in our curriculum,” Eggen added.

The minister’s office has told Kornak they’re hoping to meet with her in the near future, but haven’t yet given her any timelines as to when changes might occur.

In the meantime, Kornak said she’s pleased to have raised awareness about a difficult topic.

Natasha Kornak was awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award last year.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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