On Friday, March 31, I joined with Londoners to celebrate the launch of Anova, an agency formed through the merger of Women’s Community House—our local women’s shelter—and the Sexual Assault Centre of London. Anova was born of the idea that integration and coordination will provide better services for survivors of gender-based violence by offering a single point of access for survivors to heal from the trauma and rebuild their lives. I want to congratulate the boards of both agencies for having the vision and the tenacity to take this unique and innovative step, as well as Anova’s executive director, Kate Wiggins, and community programs director, Jane McGregor, who come to Anova from the merged agencies.
By launching Anova, my community is demonstrating the kind of leadership this government has failed to show. In 2011, domestic violence coordinating committees came together across Ontario to call for a much more integrated and cohesive approach to violence against women and for the removal of barriers that prevent coordination on the ground. Building a Bigger Wave, the initiative formed at that meeting, noted that “government funding and program delivery has separated the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, and created a false dichotomy between service providers and within coordinating committees….” Yet to date, little has happened in response.
Anova is an exciting and path-breaking initiative that will bring us closer to an Ontario that is free of gender-based violence, regardless of where the violence occurs or who the perpetrator was.