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Letter: PearlSpace highlights sexual assault awareness

Join PearlSpace in recognizing sexual assault awareness month. Learn how our community is taking action this April.
For support, contact PearlSpace (604) 389-9168 or click its Chat Widget on

PearlSpace (formerly the Howe Sound Women’s Centre) invites individuals and communities across our region to join us in recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) this month of April.

Our communities as a whole, along with sexual violence survivors, can take heart to have the widespread political support of our local governments, with the District of Squamish, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and the Village of Pemberton all proclaiming April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month for a third year in a row.

SAAM started in the U.S. as an education and prevention campaign over 20 years ago, and is now a unifying action across North America under the symbolic colour of teal. It was also almost 20 years ago in the corridor, that formal cross-sectorial advocacy began in earnest to establish a comprehensive continuum of locally-based forensic services and follow-up care. 

After assorted successes, PearlSpace was awarded contracts by the Government of BC last July to provide 24/7 mobile and confidential supports to survivors of sexual assault of all genders, aged 13 and older, from Furry Creek to Lillooet, in collaboration with the Southern Stl’atl’imx Health Society and its ́Útszan ti Smáwal̓a (Restoring The Life Force and Renewing The Spirit) Sexual Assault Response Program.

Besides locally celebrating expanded access to community-based victim supports, PearlSpace is using SAAM to highlight important, new B.C. legislation passed into force in January called the Intimate Images Protection Act (IIPA), which creates fast-tracked pathways to justice through the Intimate Images Protection Service and the Civil Resolution Tribunal when intimate images are distributed without consent. 

The legislation covers nude and near-nude images, videos, livestreams and digitally altered images, including videos known as deep fakes and will even provide recourse for minors to pursue legal action to stop the distribution of their private images. 

Parents can also make applications to remove intimate images from the internet on behalf of their youth through the Intimate Images Protection Service. 

Did you know male youth are more likely to experience online sexploitation as a form of financial blackmail? 

If parents and caregivers want to learn more about IIPA and strengthen youth protections in our communities with respect to sexual violence, PearlSpace, with the support of School District 48 (Sea to Sky), has developed a de-stigmatization presentation that will be offered in Pemberton (April 15th), Squamish (April 17th) and Whistler (April 18th). 

At the same time, we are pleased to draw attention to a special SAAM fundraiser launched by Útszan ti Smáwal̓a to enhance sexual assault awareness programming for youth, in honour of St’at’imc youth Phoenix Lutwick, who created the #consentisrespect initiative using teal-coloured artwork by Dr. Peter Eppinga, which are now emblazoned onto black hoodies available at PearlSpace Drop-Ins in Squamish and Whistler.

It is my privilege, on behalf of our eight-member PearlSpace Sexual Assault Services team and participants in the Sea to Sky Sexual Assault Response Committee, to invite community groups, public spaces and businesses alike to order a string of teal-coloured lights for your windows or distribute teal-coloured ribbons to help us grow the local conversation and build community protective factors on the overly stigmatized subject of sexual violence. We can all celebrate that social and systemic progress is achievable.

To access sexual assault services in the Sea to Sky region:


To learn more about the Intimate Images Protection Act go to the provincial website

Shannon Cooley

Co-ordinator of Sexual Assault Services with PearlSpace


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