Where are you from?
I’m originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from the U of L in 2006. My career journey has not been linear or necessarily typical. I was passionate about teaching, but felt deeply connected to student well-being and so attuned to the difficulties students were struggling with that I shifted my practice to reflect these priorities. For the last decade I have worked in suicide prevention, family violence prevention and school mental health, and have worked as a facilitator and program development coordinator for adults and teens. This June I will graduate with my Master of Education from the University of Calgary in Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Anti-Oppressive and Trauma-Informed Practice.

How long have you been at the U of L and what do you do here?
I started the position of sexual violence prevention educator in January 2021. Of utmost priority in this position is to support members of the University community who have experienced sexual violence and are looking for education, information and resources, and/or to better understand their options for reporting or seeking support. A secondary part of my role is increase awareness and education around sexual violence on campus for students and staff.

What’s the best part of your job?
This position has allowed me to work with an incredible group of people within the uLethbridge community who are committed to changing the conversation around sexual violence. Being in a role that prioritizes student well-being and supports their agency, and to expand knowledge and understanding of such a difficult issue is very meaningful to me. For me, knowing that students have a space to be heard and believed means that we are moving in the right direction. Beginning a position online during COVID has been an unusual experience but has not stopped any of our initiatives or support. I look forward to being on campus to gain a better feel for the University community!

With May being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, what do you wish everyone knew about sexual assault? What are some of the best ways to support increasing awareness of sexual assault?
Sexual violence is a complex issue and impacts so many individuals, many of whom have never reported their own experiences. It’s important to recognize that this is not an issue that exists in a vacuum; it operates from a society in which we justify oppression by our own privilege and has roots in the broader issues of colonialism, sexism and racism. Changing the conversation around sexual violence means exploring our attitudes and beliefs and the way we normalize violence — this may mean unlearning our strict gender roles and the narrative of victim-blaming, in which victims are often blamed for their own traumatic experiences rather than society holding individuals accountable for their actions.

Rates of sexual violence in post-secondary settings are alarmingly high. As the sexual violence prevention educator, I want to invite people to see that we have an opportunity and responsibility to become better informed and that having an awareness and understanding of sexual violence is vital to creating a campus culture that is safe and supportive to individuals.

Two ways in which you can get involved and join the conversation are by taking the online course, Understanding and Responding to Sexual Violence - Level One, which is an ongoing, asynchronous course available to everyone in the University community, and registering for the Lunch and Lunch opportunities on Wednesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 26.

Outside of work, what do you like to do?
My husband and I are raising our four children in a house full of music, art and books. I love yoga, neighborhood walks, sitting in local coffee shops and can’t wait to travel again!