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Ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests, I am pleased to be here today to announce our government’s support for an important new project that addresses a serious problem.
Violence against women and girls affects us all, destroying families and taking a heavy toll on our communities, our workplaces and our educational institutions.
Colleges and universities are in the business of expanding and inspiring young minds. Yet emotional violence, often a precursor to physical or sexual violence, is known to be widespread in student dating relationships.
The facts are startling.
Many on-campus sexual assaults occur during the first eight weeks of classes. The most common form of gender-based violence on campus is rape. One in six women attending college or university is a survivor of rape.
More than 80 per cent of rapes that occur on university or college campuses are committed by someone known to the victim; 50 per cent of rapes occur on dates.
Clearly, with women under the age of 25 still experiencing the highest rates of sexual assault and criminal harassment among Canadians, universities and colleges face unique challenges in keeping their campuses safe.
Our government recognized this and chose to take action.
I am pleased to be here to announce our government’s support for an innovative project resulting from a call for proposals launched in November 2011, focusing on engaging youth to end violence on university and college campuses. The call was aimed at organizations that could carry out projects to enhance opportunities for university and college campus communities to actively prevent and/or reduce violence against young women.
It gives me great pleasure to announce Government of Canada support of $200,000 to MOSAIC for a project to address violence against female students.
We are pleased to support this project, which will play a pivotal role in preventing violence against women, particularly culturally motivated violence, on college and university campuses in Vancouver. The Government of Canada is happy to partner with MOSAIC and Lanagara College to work toward keeping our campuses safe free of all forms of violence.
The project that will be carried out here at Langara College will involve students of all backgrounds and from all faculties of the college, as well as community leaders.
The project will focus on female students from various cultural communities, including the South Asian community, who comprise a large segment of the college’s student population. The focus of the project will be to improve campus policies, programs and resources for the safety of female students.
Partners will develop a violence prevention strategy and campus community safety plans. Particular emphasis will be placed on education and raising awareness among youth and new immigrants.
MOSAIC and Langara college will address the issue of violence in and around the campus – specifically, the cultural dynamics that compound violence for women on campus, and in particular, women from different ethnic communities. MOSAIC plans to use the model and approaches from this project to work with other universities and colleges that have high multicultural student populations and are located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
MOSAIC is one of a number of hard-working Canadian organizations that applied for funding under Status of Women Canada’s recent call for proposals for projects that addresses violence on university and college campuses.
Founded in 1976, this multilingual, non-profit organization helps newcomers integrate into Canadian life. Guided by the principles of equality, social justice, equal access and democracy, MOSAIC’s main activities include settlement services and programming, crime reduction and prevention programs, public education and community development.
As Minister for Status of Women, I will work tirelessly to support projects across Canada that yield real results for women and girls, strengthening their families, their communities and our country.
I will continue to work with communities across the country, and with my colleagues across all levels of government to explore additional measures our government can take to protect vulnerable women and girls and to break the cycle of violence. It is only by working together, and by enhancing our knowledge and understanding of this issue, that we will end all forms of violence against women and girls.
I applaud both MOSAIC and Langara College for their invaluable contributions to making better and brighter communities right here in Vancouver. And I wish you – and those you inspire, inform, educate and empower – every success with this important project. Thank you.