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Feds funding 3 B.C. groups to support survivors of military-based sexual misconduct

‘It fits clearly within our mission and mandate and will help those affected directly’
Patti MacAhonic, executive director of Ann Davis Transition Society. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Ann Davis Transition Society of Chilliwack is one of only three agencies in B.C. awarded funding to provide trauma counselling for survivors of military-based sexual misconduct.

“It fits clearly within our mission and mandate and will help those affected directly, as well as the community as a whole in healing related to sexual misconduct in the military,” said Patti MacAhonic, executive director of Ann Davis Transition Society (ADTS).

Ann Davis offers counselling services for women, men and children across all demographics, including some remotely, making it the ideal provider in this context.

The new grant for ADTS works out to $75,000 per year over three years. It’s Department of National Defence funding delivered through the new Community Support for Sexual Misconduct Survivors Grant Program.

“Increasing access to support services across Canada for those in the Defence community who have been affected by sexual misconduct is a top priority for the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF),” according to the March 24 release from the Sexual Misconduct Support and Resource Centre (SMSRC).

“Our mandate encompasses trauma from the impacts of violence,” MacAhonic said. “And we have strong trust relationships established. People feel safe coming to us.”

MacAhonic underlined that there was a strong military presence on a base in Chilliwack from 1942 to 1997 with CFB Chilliwack.

“That’s a long time to have a base here,” MacAhonic said, adding that the Area Support Unit (ASU) occasionally calls if they have members suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ann Davis offers transition house services, providing refuge for women and their children, as well as education, crisis prevention, advocacy and support for individuals fleeing abuse or violence.

“We’ll be able to run group and individual counselling,” MacAhonic said explaining the vision for the grant, as well as plans to shore up counselling resources.

Having heard about the new program, the Ann Davis official said she searched their database they created for the transition society. She found at least seven of their current clientele who might fit the program criteria, such as current or former members of the military who are survivors of sexual assault.

A total of 30 projects were successful applicants across Canada, three of which are in B.C. Besides the Ann Davis Transition Society, the Veterans Transition Network in Vancouver and the Victoria Child Abuse Prevention and Counselling Centre were chosen.

The successful agencies will receive either one-time funding of up to $50,000 or recurrent funding of up to $75,000 a year.

“This provides the wider Defence community access to more support services independent from the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence,” the release said.

The new program funding boost takes the number of agencies from eight sexual assault centres operating near large military bases, to 30 community-based service providers located across Canada.

“With investments of $10 million over five years from Budget 2021, the Community Support for Sexual Misconduct Survivors Grant Program contributes to the objective of National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence which is a commitment of federal, provincial and territorial governments.

“It also supports DND’s approach to building comprehensive support structures through dialogue with survivors, increasing scope and access to support and resources.”

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
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