Nearly two decades after funding was cut to all BC Sexual Assault Centres, the Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) hopes a new funding grant program it is administering will start to fill the gaps.
Executive director Tracy Porteous said the B.C. Government agreed last March to provide $10-million to EVA BC to administer a three-year emergency sexual assault services grant program which will help organizations deliver community-based emergency sexual assault response services that are trauma-informed and culturally appropriate.
After the call went out in the summer, more than 60 applications from across B.C. worth approximately $30 million came into the Indigenous and general services stream.
Of the 23 organizations to receive funding announced earlier this week, 10 are Indigenous.
In Williams Lake, the Yeqox Nilin Justice Society will enhance its current victim services with a specialized focus on emergency sexual assault response in seven rural, isolated and remote Indigenous communities: ?Esdilagh, Tl’etinqox, Tl’esqox, Yunesit’in, Tsideldel, Xeni Gwet’in and Ulkatcho through two new employees.
“In the past four years, I’ve noticed on the [court] docket that there is a lot more sexual assault charges than there were in the past, and it’s very alarming,” said society executive director Samantha Jo-Dick.
With the focus often high on rehabilitating offenders, Dick said victims often go unnoticed in terms of receiving the assistance they need.
The society currently works with Karen Jim of the Alexis Creek RCMP Victim Services and has recently hired Deidri Camille, who will begin her role as emergency response co-ordinator on Jan. 5
Dave Dickson will serve as a consultant, and the society will hire a victim services worker in April 2021.
Before becoming executive director, Dick recalled attending Tsilhqot’in schools with other frontline workers to speak with children and youth regarding what consent is.
“I’m hoping that out of this new funding that is some of the types of trainings we’ll be able to take out to the community as well to ensure that we are trying to get ahead of these issues and educate people on the matter,” she said.