For Immediate Release: PANSOW calls for action by the Department of Education on sexual violence

October 5, 2018

For immediate release

RE: PANSOW calls for action by the Department of Education on sexual violence

Last year, allegations of sexual assault by a student resulted in legislative changes to the Schools Act, 1997, which came into effect on September 1, 2018. It provides the Director of Education with the authority to refuse to admit a student on school property where it is his/her opinion that the presence of the student is detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of students or staff. It was announced that polices were forthcoming based on these changes and to address sexual violence in our schools. However, in recent weeks, allegations of sexual assault at another school have come forward and highlighted the lack of movement on these promises.

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women believes that a holistic and trauma informed approach is needed that addresses the need for safety during transportation to and from school, during school, and while involved in extracurricular school activities.  This requires changes in policy and practice that address the physical and psychological safety needs of students and staff.  Trauma can impact an individual’s ability to acquire new knowledge and to retrieve stored information, thereby impacting the ability to learn. Creating safety is paramount in helping individuals regain a sense of control and concentrate.

Measures that address safety on buses may include the use of bus monitors, paid or volunteer, to assist with the supervision of students or cameras.  School buses can accommodate up to 72 passengers; far too many for a single driver to monitor while also having to tend to the duties of driving and following the rules of the road.  Cameras may provide legal evidence of the behaviours and actions that are occurring that are not observable by the driver.

During the school day, it is important to provide supports in terms of guidance and psychological services for those impacted by trauma and its impacts on daily activities.  In addition, accommodations, short or long term, may be required to help students remain in school and complete their curriculum.  This will be best determined by consulting with the student, their family and any professional supports they are using to assist with their recovery.

Policy and procedures for extracurricular activities should be reviewed and updated and ensure that they provide adequate supervision for all students.  The procedures for reporting incidents need to be clear and reflect the serious nature of the trauma a student may experience.

To create systemic change in how we identify and intervene when violence occurs can only happen with changes to the curriculum. Curriculum changes that focus on healthy relationships, boundary setting and consent can create a safe and more inclusive learning environment and help us ensure students lead vibrant and healthy lives. Professional development training in trauma informed practice is also necessary for all employees to ensure early detection and response, and to create supportive environments for all involved with teaching and shaping the minds of our children and youth.

PANSOW is available for consultation in creating these necessary changes as we have experience in providing both front line support to individuals impacted by sexual violence and in policy development.  Changes are needed now and we cannot wait for more students and families to be left in limbo.

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Media Contacts
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com

Janice Kennedy

Executive Director

Bay St. George Status of Women Council

Tel. 709-643-4444

executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

 

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women supports the call for a Provincial Task Force on Gender-Based Violence

 

For Immediate Release
October 4, 2018

There has been a significant rise in the rates of domestic and sexual violence in Newfoundland and Labrador. In advance of the In Her Name vigil for missing and murdered women and girls of NL, the St. John’s Status of Women Council and St. John’s Native Friendship Centre are calling once again for the establishment of a provincial task force on gender-based violence. The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is fully supporting this call to action.

We wish to see the establishment of a task force that is well-resourced, which includes a budget, staffing, strong terms of reference, and ministerial level accountability. If we are to see tangible change in the levels of violence women and girls experience daily we must have the political will to drive significant changes in legislation, policy, and funding.

We are aware of the Minister’s Committee on Violence Against Women and Girls in Newfoundland and Labrador struck last year and support that community collaboration. The committee can be a significant and vital part of the work of the task force. However, a St. John’s-centric committee alone is simply not the right mechanism to deal with the magnitude of the issues of violence against women and girls in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Paula Sheppard Thibeau, PANSOW Co-chair and Executive Director, Corner Brook Status of Women Council:

“Only through a collaborative approach that includes stakeholders from various sectors and areas of the province can we reduce violence in our families and communities. The work of a gender-based violence task force must focus on strengthening efforts for early identification and intervention, and providing individuals affected with the necessary supports to gain economic, psychological, and physical well-being.”

Raelene Vickers, Executive Director, Mokami Status of Women Council:

“Violence against women and girls in Labrador is a massive concern that needs to be addressed through a province-wide task force on gender-based violence. Labrador communities have some of the highest rates of domestic violence across the country, and too many women are at risk. The cultural needs of Indigenous communities in Labrador must be included in a provincial plan to end gender-based violence. Women and girls in Labrador need to know that their safety and lives matter to the province.”

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Media Contacts

Paula Sheppard Thibeau
PANSOW Co-chair
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com 

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

PANSOW applies a provincial lens to issues of equality and ensure a public voice for women from a non-partisan, grassroots, and feminist perspective. PANSOW consists of the Executive Directors of all eight councils in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW’s mandate is two-fold: To educate and build awareness on broad issues related to gender equity and justice in the province; and to advocate for change in government policy and legislation that facilitates gender equity and justice.

PANSOW calls for changes to justice system following the death of two women at the NL Correctional Centre for Women

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) stands in solidarity with families of incarcerated women. We join them in calling on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to initiate long overdue changes within our provincial justice system.

The 2008 report, Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards the Light – A review of the prison systems in Newfoundland and Labrador noted that many of those who are housed in our provincial prisons are there for crimes stemming from poverty, addictions, and mental health issues. Yet adequate and appropriate programming and services, especially gender-specific programming, to address these needs are not present within our correctional institutions. Prisons are not equipped to deal with these issues and the living conditions in these institutions often lead to deterioration of mental health. We are at a critical moment following the deaths of two women at the NL Correctional Centre for Women, change through community collaboration is paramount.

Samantha Piercey, who died in prison last month, died on remand. Charged, but not convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, our province has some of the highest rates of remand in the country. Whenever possible, individuals on remand should remain in the community with supports.

There is an immediate and critical need for supports, staffing and resources, gender-specific health care, an alleviation of overcrowding, and incidents of lock down. We are supportive of the independent review initiated by Minister Parsons however we ask for civilian oversight of this process and the involvement of incarcerated women and their families.

Media Contacts
Paula Sheppard Thibeau
Executive Director
Corner Brook Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.639.8522
cbwomenscentre@gmail.com

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

PANSOW seeks clarification regarding mandatory counselling for Mifegymiso

The following letter was sent to the Hon. Dr. John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services via email at the end of May 2018. PANSOW requested clarification on his comments regarding the need for women to receive counselling before being prescribed the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. To date, no response has been received from his office. We urge you to join us in contacting the Minister of Health and Community Services to ensure that Mifegymiso is readily available to all women throughout the province through clinics and their family doctor without the need for mandatory counselling. 

Dear Minister John Haggie,

The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is seeking clarification on your statement in regards to counselling for the abortion pill, Mifegymiso. Are you suggesting that women receive mental health counselling before being prescribed the medication or just a discussion with their doctor about potential side-effects of the medication?

PANSOW represents the eight Status of Women Councils of this province and we are pro-choice organizations that support people’s right to choose. We want to see Mifegymiso covered by MCP and that every family doctor or nurse practitioner can prescribe it to their patients.

It is important that women from any area of the province, particularly rural and remote areas, have access to this much needed and time sensitive service. Requiring women to access counselling before they can be prescribed the medication is a barrier with already lengthy wait times for counselling throughout the province or simply unavailable in some parts of the province.

We look forward to your response.

Thank you,

Janice Kennedy, Co-Chair of PANSOW

Media Contact
Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.

For Immediate Release: PANSOW statement on MHA attendance at celebration of Eddie Joyce

Everyone loves a celebration. However, the Provincial Action Network of the Status of Women (PANSOW) must question the timing of the recent celebration of MHA Eddie Joyce’s 25 years of public service in politics. Mr. Joyce is currently under investigation by the Commissioner for Legislative Standards amid allegations of harassment and bullying. Mr. Joyce, while still the MHA for Humber-Bay of Islands, has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence from the House of Assembly as the investigation continues.

We are concerned for the message that this sends to the public, especially considering the anti-harassment training all MHAs recently completed. Harassment is a form of violence which violates respectful workplace policies. It is imperative that leaders recognize the damaging effects that workplace violence can have on their employees. This celebration and the attendance by four Liberal MHAs sends the message to the women who came forward that they do not matter. It does not present an image of respect for the process currently taking place within the House regarding this issue.

We call on the MHAs, Gerry Byrne, John Finn, Scott Reid, and Jerry Dean to acknowledge this and to undertake further training to better understand the impacts of violence in the workplace.

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Media Contacts

Janice Kennedy
Executive Director
Bay St. George Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.643.4444
executivedirector.bsgswc@gmail.com

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
PANSOW, Co-Chair
Tel: 709.753.0220
jenny@sjwomenscentre.ca

About PANSOW
The Provincial Action Network on the Status of Women (PANSOW) is a grassroots, feminist, and non-partisan network which gives a provincial voice on the issues facing the Status of Women in Newfoundland and Labrador. PANSOW consists of all eight Status of Women Councils in Newfoundland and Labrador.