There is an unprecedented conversation in North America on gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses right now. Survivors, administrators, student advocates, parents, faculty, and gender-based violence organizations are pushing for transformative change. The Courage to Act report centres on listening to these calls to action.

About the Report

From January to May 2019 Possibility Seeds Consulting worked in collaboration with the Women and Gender Equality Framework Advisory Committee to explore with key stakeholders across the country what are the challenges, opportunities and needs on campuses. Courage to Act: Developing a National Framework to Address and Prevent Gender-Based Violence is a culmination of these conversations, capturing promising practices, key policy areas, and prevention plans in a groundbreaking report.


Person project team


Person Advisory Committee


Listening & Learning Consultations


Listening & Learning Participants



Post Secondary Institutions Represented




A National Collaboration

Developed in collaboration with community stakeholders from across Canada during 30+ Listening and Learning Sessions, this Framework builds on the crucial work—led by students, staff, faculty, academics and community organizers—already being done on campuses and in communities to address sexual violence, while expanding the scope to more broadly include gender-based violence.

transformative change

Traditional responses of supports and services for individuals are still vital but are no longer enough. We now need a holistic framework that sustainably addresses policy, procedures, and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention. 

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Cultivating change

The “Courage to Act” report captures promising practices, key policy areas, and prevention plans as the foundation of a framework to address and prevent gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses in Canada.

The Report is broken into three key chapters

Each chapter delves into key concepts, concerns and promising practices that post-secondary institutions can explore in the development of policy, protocols and practices to address and prevent gender-based violence.

+ Chapter 1 Overview

Responding to disclosures of gender-based violence and support for people affected by gender-based violence is a natural first step in establishing a Framework. The first chapter explores three key themes:

• Developing capacity in post-secondary institutions to become trauma-responsive campuses

• Developing clear and well supported access to workplace accommodations and academic considerations for those affected by gender-based violence

• Collaborating with both internal and external partners to ensure that holistic approaches to supporting those affected by gender-based violence are employed.

+ Chapter 2 Overview

A key component to supporting the social change needed to prevent and address gender-based violence is education. In the second chapter, we see that:

• Gender-based violence prevention education needs to be ongoing and adaptable to address the ever-evolving landscapes of post-secondary institutions and consider the lived experiences of campus community members in its development and execution.

• Multiple programs, tools, pedagogical approaches and techniques are needed to deliver effective educational programming.

• Students, faculty and staff should be exposed to consistent prevention messages and education at multiple points over their tenure at post-secondary institutions.

The opportunities outlined in this Framework create the foundation for new and ongoing programs and approaches as well as assessments of their effectiveness in fostering community learning and culture change.

+ Chapter 3 Overview

The third chapter explores the areas of reporting, investigations, and adjudication of cases involving gender-based violence within post-secondary practices.

Within this chapter, we attempt to address the issues surrounding the increasingly complex topics of student conduct and labour relations while acknowledging that there are intersecting legal frameworks which must be taken into account at the provincial, territorial and federal levels. Such legal frameworks include, but are not limited to, human rights law, child welfare law, administrative law, criminal law and privacy law.

These laws confer rights and obligations on post-secondary administrators, not just best practices. With that in mind, more research is needed to fully grasp the scope of complexities inherent in reporting, investigations and adjudication processes within the unique provincial, territorial and national landscapes.

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about our Recommendations:

There are a number of overarching recommendations that emerge from the framework and set the stage for a broader and more holistic approach for post-secondary institutions to address and prevent gender-based violence. At the heart of all the work is the experience of those affected by gender-based violence. We hope this Framework honours them by applying invaluable lessons learned from their experiences to improve practices, policies and procedures to address and prevent gender-based violence.

+ Project Team

  • Farrah Khan, Project Director
  • CJ Rowe, Project Director
  • Kelly Prevett, Project Coordinator
  • Hannah Barath, Consultation Lead
  • Robyn Bidgood, Reporting and Investigation Lead
  • Jason Garcia, Education Lead
  • Chenthoori Malankov, Support Lead
  • Andréanne St-Gelais, Regional Lead
  • Woo Kim, Lead Editor
  • Courtney Skye, Editor
  • Jennifer Flood, Peer Editor
  • Myrna McCallum, Peer Editor
  • Michelle Campos Castillo, Report Graphic Designer

+ Advisory Committee

The Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Advisory Committee on the Framework to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions Advisory Committee

The Department of Women and Gender Equality established the Framework Advisory Committee to assist the development of the Framework to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions. The Framework’s Advisory Committee was formed to support the Government of Canada in its commitment to developing a harmonized framework to ensure consistent, comprehensive, and sustainable approaches in addressing GBV at PSIs across Canada. The members of the Advisory Committee include:

  • Priya Dube, Canadian Alliance of Student Association (CASA)
  • Arig al Shaibah, McMaster University
  • Brenda Austin-Smith, Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)
  • Manon Bergeron, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Joanna Birenbaum, Ursel Phillips Fellows Hopkinson LLP
  • Ann Buller, Centennial College
  • Karen Busby, University of Manitoba
  • Lisa Clarke, Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre
  • Britney De Costa, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA)
  • Cassbreea Dewis, University of Victoria
  • Nancy Deziel, Collège Shawinigan
  • Deb Eerkes, University of Alberta
  • Jennifer Flood, Sexual Violence and Prevention, Humber College
  • Jason Garcia, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton
  • Tayler Glaspey, National Education Associate of Disabled Students (NEADS)
  • Trina James, Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)
  • Bee Khaleeli, Sexual Assault Centre of McGill University
  • Mélanie Lemay, Québec contre les violences sexuelles
  • Lucia Lorenzi, McMaster University
  • Myrna McCallum, Miyo Pimatisiwin Legal Services
  • Jesmen Mendoza, Ryerson University
  • Janet Morrison, Sheridan College
  • Melanie Omeniho, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (Women of the Métis Nation)
  • Chandra Pasma, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
  • Peter Ricketts, Acadian University
  • Caitlin Salvino, Students for Consent Culture (SFCC)
  • Hilary Swan, Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre
  • Vianne Timmons, University of Regina
  • Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, University of Saskatchewan