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Dealing with sexual violence: Nova Scotia optimistic about province-wide strategy

A couple holding hands.
Scott Olson/The Canadian Press

The government of Nova Scotia is providing an optimistic progress report on the province’s first sexual violence strategy, Breaking the Silence.

Launched in June 2015, the program aims to engage the community, offering them training for the best ways to deal with sexualize violence.

READ MORE: Mi’kmaq community projects to prevent sexualized violence receives provincial funding

In the progress report released Wednesday, community services minister Joanne Bernard said “communities have jumped right in,” to be involved in the strategy’s development.

“Hopefully more people will see this is as their strategy, not just the government’s,” Bernard said in a release.

In the past year, the government, in partnership with the community, has taken the following actions:

  • Created a community support network for a sexual violence strategy training committee.
  • Created a sexual violence strategy public awareness committee.
  • Received $1.25 million in Community Support Network Grants.
  • Developed professional sessions for 211 and 811 employees.
  • Received $650,000 in Prevention Innovation Grants.
  • Hosted a Mi’kmaq community engagement gathering.

The initiative’s training committee has also been working to develop online training for community members, which the government says incorporates a “critical analysis of the root causes of sexual violence such as sexism, racism and homophobia.”

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For community groups in the province, the strategy and the training it provides is vital, according to YMCA Halifax staff member and training committee member Dee Dooley.

“The hope is that this training will be widely used and, in turn, positively impact victims and survivors of sexualized violence by reducing secondary wounding and retraumatization when accessing supports,” Dooley said in a release.

The government said it has more plans for the coming months, including expanding sexual assault nurse examiner services in eastern and western Nova Scotia.

The province also plans to roll out an awareness campaign in the fall and submit another round of Prevention Innovation Grants applications.