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Sexual assault and violence resource centre says it has lost federal funding for program

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A sexual assault and violence resource centre in the Interlake-Eastern region, says it has lost federal funding for one of its programs, and will have to shutter it next month.

Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre (SHCC) says it received notification about the change last week. The organization says the funding was utilized for its Sexual Assault Recovery and Healing program (SARAH). The program provides 24/7 crisis support, long-term counselling, support groups, and referral to those affected by sexual violence in the region.

“So it is therapeutic,” said Coral Kendel, executive director at Survivors Hope Crisis Centre. “It is also systems navigation, legal support, advocacy, and different means of being able to navigate the legal justice system through community-based care, like third party reporting and protection order designation.”

Kendel says since the program started around the five years ago, hundreds of individuals have participated in it. And she says losing it will have a domino effect on other areas.

“It impacts the entire region really specifically, because of the residents who will no longer have this support. But it also affects Winnipeg with the way that lacking a resource out here means that individuals who need support are then diverted to the programs that exist in Winnipeg, which are already entirely overworked and under resourced with waitlists spanning multiple years to be able to receive counselling,” said Kendel.

The Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters Inc. (MAWS) told CTV in a statement that losing SARAH would be a blow to sexual violence supports.

"Loss of funding in any part of the sector is always disappointing. The SARAH Program at Survivor's Hope closing means that survivors of sexual violence including intimate partner and gender-based violence have less supports available. With the continued increase in abuse and escalation in the kinds of violence we are seeing, there will be added pressure on other existing and limited resources including shelters, resource centres and hospitals. Rural communities will continue to be left behind. More resources, not less, are needed to continue helping women, children and families experiencing sexual and other forms of violence,” said MAWS.

SHCC says it needs about $75,000 to continue operating for another fiscal year. It has now launched a crowdfunding campaign to try and save the program.

“Every dollar every $1,000, can retain the program for another week, another month, and then (we’re) hoping for new grant opportunities in the fall and next spring,” said Kendel.

Meantime, the federal Department of Justice told CTV, “It’s committed to ending all forms of sexual violence, including intimate partner violence, and addressing any gaps in the Criminal Code to ensure a robust criminal justice system response that provides support to survivors and their families.”

However, in a statement, it said the funding was for a set period.

“In April 2021, the Survivor’s Hope Counseling Centre received a three-year funding commitment totalling $168,849 from the Department of Justice Canada’s Victims Fund to develop a wraparound support program for victims and survivors of sexualized violence: Funding for this project was for a set period (April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2024), not on an ongoing basis…since that funding was allocated, the Survivor’s Hope Counseling Centre has received further funding from the Department of Justice for National Victims and Survivors of Crime Week activities.”

Kendel says at the end of the day, the thought of losing SARAH is a difficult pill to swallow.

“We're devastated. You know, to put it lightly. It affects us all, really, personally, in how passionate we are for this work and advocating for survivors and supporting them," said Kendel.

With files from CTV's Taylor Brock and Alexandra Holyk 

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