Cultivating a community of care at SFU Surrey and beyond

January 18, 2022

Happy new year, everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday break with family and friends, even as the Omicron variant impacted the way we could gather and celebrate. Although we are beginning yet another unusual term at SFU, I hope you are feeling somewhat rested and recharged. I, for one, am very hopeful that the light at the end of the tunnel is near; that once through this last phase of social isolation we will be able to return to some semblance of normal.

And while COVID-19 is so omnipresent in our day-to-day thoughts and actions, I want to make Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) the focus of my first blog of 2022. Why? Well, not only is sexual violence and support an important topic, but I am reminded that social issues such as sexual violence have not gone away during COVID; they may in fact have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

At SFU, SAAM is activated by the amazing team at the Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office (SVSPO). The annual campaign takes place every January and aims to raise awareness about sexual violence while empowering our campus community to engage with this complex topic in meaningful ways.

The theme of SAAM for 2022 is Cultivating a Community of Care. To help understand what this means to us as a campus community, I quote directly from the SVSPO website:

“The goal of SAAM 2022 is to create an inclusive and equitable community in which individuals aim to support and care for one another and strive towards a shared sense of accountability. We recognize that each person’s experience is unique, and each survivor’s needs and hopes are different.

Our goal is to create a community of care in which:

  • People who have experienced sexual violence feel supported and respected in their unique journeys.
  • People are empowered to identify and challenge assumptions, comments, and behaviors–both in themselves and others–that normalize sexual violence.
  • People have the skills to offer compassionate support to those who have experienced sexual violence.
  • People hold themselves accountable and help one another be accountable when they have caused harm.”

Though it takes courage and vulnerability, I encourage you find your role in being part of this community of care.  From my perspective, one act of sexual violence action is one too many. A primary goal in the development of the community of care is to go upstream and identify ways that we can collectively prevent acts of violence as a community.

Getting more specific, below are some ways to participate in SAAM 2022:

As we continue to navigate these challenging times together, I hope you will contribute to a culture of mutual care and respect in all aspects of your life. Now more than ever, let’s be kind and gentle with one another, and together we can create a community of care at SFU Surrey and beyond.