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Sexualized Violence Response Team now active in Hope and area

The Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS) has a team of four focused on education and outreach
A new Sexualized Violence Response Team is now active in Hope and the surrounding area. (Shutterstock photo)

A small but dedicated team with the Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS) are putting boots on the ground in the fight against sexualized violence.

Anna Gladue, program co-ordinator at Hope’s Jean Scott Transition House, is heading up a new ‘Sexualized Violence Response Team.’

Funding for the project was announced in June, provided by the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

In the months since, Gladue has built the team that will be the ‘boots on the ground.’

She believes she’s found the right mix with Megan Walter, Debbie Pauls and Natalie Dicken.

Dicken is the ‘Sexualized Violence Community Navigator,’ tasked with building support and raising awareness for the program. She is going into local schools and working with businesses and other community partner groups.

“A program like ours is long overdue and I look forward to increasing awareness and education around how our services support survivors of both historical and recent sexualized violence,” Dicken said.

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Walter is the team’s ‘Outreach Response Worker,’ moving over from a homeless outreach position at HATS. Because of that previous work, Gladue said Walter has already built several great relationships with community members who could be described as marginalized and/or vulnerable.

“She’ll walk alongside a person and help them individualize a path to wellness, whatever it looks like for that person,” Gladue said.

“It is my goal to be an approachable and trustworthy support to anyone within our region who has had an act committed against their sexual integrity,” Walter added.

Pauls is the ‘Response Coordinator’ for a sizable Fraser East region that extends from Agassiz, Harrison and Sts-ailes in the west, to Boston Bar and Boothroyd in the north, east to Manning Park and communities along Highway 1 to Popkum.

“I work closely in collaboration with community partners, whose priorities are to develop processes and protocols for trauma informed and culturally safe services throughout the region,” Pauls said. “This continuum of care includes a cross-sectorial response that is streamlined, readily available and consistent throughout the region.”

Behind the scenes, there are around 30 people supporting the project through subcommittees.

Gladue is the team leader, but she said Dicken, Walter and Pauls “will put in all the hard work” following a strategic plan that includes four main goals.

The first is to create an ‘every door is the right door’ scenario.

“Anybody who approaches any service provider in the community should be directed back to us, and then we can help them walk through what their options are,” Gladue elaborated. “We want to increase the timeliness, availability and coordination of services.”

Goal number two is creating partnerships based on mutual trust, accountability and respect.

Goal number three is creating stronger relationships with minority communities and different cultures and providing culturally safe and trauma informed care.

Goal number four is providing community-based education.

“Working towards a better understanding, and prevention, of sexualized violence by going into schools and interacting with businesses and other groups,” Gladue said. “We also want to increase awareness and reduce incidents by identifying marginalized groups and providing education to those folks.”

Having funding, staff and a formalized structure makes it easier to do these things that Gladue said have been taking place ‘off the side of a desk’ the past few years.

“I don’t think there’s a measurement on the charts that can measure my excitement for this,” she noted. “It’s long overdue, not only in the province but also nationally. Based on the amount of funding that’s coming through the past few years, the federal and provincial governments are now recognizing that sexualized violence is increasing and consent is consent, with no grey area.”

Funding for this program runs through March 21, 2023.

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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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