Section 3: Accountability & Justice
Learners participating in this training will likely be from a broad range of backgrounds and will have their own experiences, strengths, vulnerabilities, and skills. With that in mind, you are encouraged to spend time tailoring these training materials to the person or few people you are working with and to take a “meeting people where they are at” approach to facilitating this training. You may find some things “fit” and other things may feel “sticky” or “confusing” for some learners. You may have to spend more time than anticipated on certain activities or try out a new way of communicating the information “in the moment.” It is likely that each time you deliver this training that it will “feel” different and that you will have many new ideas about how to deliver it next time.
The area of accountability and repairing relationships is a new venture for many PSI’s, especially in the context of sexual violence. Involving many voices and perspectives is necessary to advance the work in a way that responds to the unique needs of learners, victim/survivors, and communities. This training can help your institution implement policies and procedures in a more supportive way for victim/survivors and those who cause harm. It can contribute to overall action on preventing and responding to sexual violence and a climate of community accountability on sexual violence.
This is not easy work. We recognize that everyone will come to this work with their own history and experiences. We encourage you to identify and tend to your own needs for further training, support, reflection and processing throughout the process.
Below are some considerations for specific groups of learners.
Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island (now known as North America) have long standing struggles for equity in the areas of reconciliation, justice and restorative justice. The long standing unjust and dehumanizing experiences Indigenous Peoples have in all areas of society make it so much more important to be mindful of their response, and ability, or lack thereof, to advocate for what they need in a respectful and clear way. This training begins with a short video called “Maya’xala and Namwayut” in which Jewell Gillies, Musgamgw Dzawada’enux, describes a Kwakwakawakw approach to repairing harm. This video can be helpful for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners in thinking about accountability and justice in a different way from the punitive perspectives we are typically exposed to in the media and in our communities. You will need to consider your audience when determining how to “set the context” for this video as learners will have a wide range of pre-existing knowledge and experiences about topics such as reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and Indigenous ways of knowing and being in the world.
International students bring with them their diverse cultures which encompass tradition, norms, values and beliefs which may be different from Westernized culture and its social norms and expectations. It is important to be accountable for our own conscious and unconscious biases, and take time to reflect on what this means to support culturally diverse individuals. You can implement the practice of cultural humility, a process of learning, which includes self-reflection, and being aware of one’s own biases, values and beliefs and the historic realities of violence and oppression against marginalized and vulnerable populations. This will help you to refrain from cultural curiosity and direct your focus on creating a respectful, non-judgmental and comfortable environment that includes prioritizing the immediate needs of learners instead of focusing on or requesting clarification about their culture. This is an intersectional approach to ensure inclusivity and to identify the oppressive systems, i.e., culture, race, gender, sexuality, class, caste, social location that intersect and form their unique social identities. Acknowledge the difference that sets them apart from the domestic students at the institution, which also impacts their feelings of isolation, exclusion and lack of belonging. Provide trauma-informed, culturally grounded and client-centered support.
We encourage you to practice cultural humility when implementing this resource. This is a process of learning, which includes self-reflection, and being aware of one’s own biases, values and beliefs and the historic realities of violence and oppression against marginalized and vulnerable populations. Learners in this training will be diverse in culture, ethnicity, race, gender and sexual preference. This will influence their understanding of issues like justice, accountability, and consent. Awareness, understanding and openness of diverse cultural identities and experiences can be accomplished through practicing cultural humility.
People who are LGBTQ2IA+
People in the LGBTQ2IA+ community disproportionately experience higher rates of sexual violence due to homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia. Furthermore, because of the lasting societal prevalence of homophobia, transphobia and queerphobia, they may be isolated from supportive networks including families and friends. Experiences with medical professionals and the criminal justice system may not offer culturally competent support or a sense of safety for queer victims and survivors of sexualized violence. Likewise, victims of queer sexual violence may be reluctant to seek support or report the harm done to them (e.g., a straight, cisgender man may feel shame about being harmed by another man and choose not to seek support).
While there is a growing awareness of the needs and challenges faced by our LGBTQ2IA+ community members, much still needs to be done to create truly inclusive and safe spaces for all people. Facilitation of these sessions in a mindful and inclusive way will help all learners feel valued, included, and supported.
Ensure the language that you use when talking about sexual violence represents the diversity of sexes, relationships, and gender identities that exist. Avoid using language or examples that suggest that a binary male/female dynamic is inherent in all instances of sexual violence. See Section 2: Gender and LGBTQ2IA+ Inclusive Language.
Care must be taken to understand and acknowledge the intersecting oppressions faced by LGBTQ2IA+ folks of colour, Indigenous folks and those who are disabled. If at all possible, during this training, when sharing information about community and campus resources, include resources for queer victims of sexual violence that are culturally relevant (i.e., resources for Two Spirit people, queers of colour, disabled queers, religious queers, etc.). Speaking with your Indigenous Support Services, your student union associations and the counselling department will be great places to locate any such supports within your institution as well as within your broader community.