by Gloria Welton
A new program called RISE provides free legal resources and support to people who have experienced sexual violence, including workplace sexual harassment.
“It is silencing, extremely traumatizing, and often confusing when people experience sexual violence like assault or workplace sexual harassment,” says Alia Hack, Program Manager. “Our program helps clients stand up to what is happening in a well informed and supported way.”
The program offers free legal resources including legal information, up to four hours of free advice from a lawyer, support to navigate the justice system, and referrals to other community support services.
Alia says these services are only a call or an email away. “We are getting up to two calls a week from those who are being or have been victimized. We also get calls from friends of victims and community partners, which we are very happy to receive.”
Also working with RISE and taking the calls and emails is Emma Chilton, Legal Navigator. “We have an incredible group of seven lawyers who are passionate about the RISE program. The lawyers participating have expertise in criminal, civil and family, human rights, and employment law.
“We keep in mind that the client needs time to be ready to make that call to the lawyer after connecting with us,” says Emma. “We are here to help the client look at all their options and gain confidence to address their situation. Getting legal advice can set them on the path to addressing sexual violence and/or workplace sexual harassment.”
“It took about eight months to develop the RISE program,” says Alia, who came on staff in November 2019. “There are so many aspects of implementing a brand new program, especially one that addresses a highly personal topic like sexual violence, such as connecting with community partners, financing, administration, evaluation, and promotion, as well as other measures to safely meet the needs of the client.
RISE is offered through Community Legal Information (CLI) which is a registered charity that helps PEI residents understand the law and navigate the justice system. CLI provides a safe, judgment-free way to get current legal information on many aspects of the law, in a language that is understood.
Workplace sexual harassment presentations for employees
“This is a very complex issue which traumatizes and can put a person’s livelihood at risk,” says Alia. “Our goal is to educate people about workplace sexual harassment in the context of the law, and about victims’ options to address the issue. Our target audience is employees, including bystanders, while our partner, the PEI Human Rights Commission, will work with employers.”
Workplace Harassment Regulations required
Effective July 1, 2020 it is mandatory for every employer to have a Workplace Harassment Policy.
Employers can get support and guidance to develop the policy through the Occupational Health and Safety division of the Workers Compensation Board.
For more information about Workplace Harassment Regulations, email [email protected] or call 902-368-5697.
About the staff
Alia Hack is from Nova Scotia and has family ties on PEI that led her to move to PEI. Her career path started with a degree in psychology. She then entered a Youth in Partnership program to get some international development skills and to become more employable. She went to Botswana, a country in southern Africa, to help raise funds for a hospice and to assist with community supports to fight HIV-AIDS. She went on to do her Masters of Business Strategy at EDHEC in France and then worked in Berlin with a technical start-up company. She realized that a career strictly in the business sector was not for her.
“I moved back to Canada and started my career on PEI in program/community development at the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada. That job was good preparation for working with the RISE program. I look forward to assisting victims through RISE and to better understanding their needs to ensure RISE makes a lasting impact on PEI.”
Emma Chilton is from Charlottetown. She is a graduate of the Arts and Science program at McMaster University. “My degree gave me a very holistic sense that helped me to become more independent. The highlight was living in France for a year, which gave me a lot of confidence with the French language.
“During my undergrad, I did an internship at CLI for two summers. I was able to build relationships by connecting to other people working in the community justice field.
“After graduating from McMaster, I was hired by that university in various roles such as research, teaching assistant, and student navigator. I had some training in mental health support and suicide intervention, which gave me the practical training I needed to become more ready for employment.
“These experiences changed my perspective, and I felt more able to help empower people and share tools to help rebuild or make better choices. In the middle of March 2020 the university closed because of COVID-19, so my partner and I decided to move back to PEI. I started working at CLI again. I appreciate the mission and the values that CLI stands for, which help people better understand the legal system and make decisions. I was thrilled to apply to the RISE program when an opening became available.”
Emma says she looks forward to making further connections that she hopes will help make a difference in people’s lives.
Connecting with the RISE program
The RISE program will be available for the long-term as a result a five-year funding agreement with Justice Canada and a two-year funding agreement with the PEI Department of Justice and Public Safety.
Alia and Emma are available by phone and by email, so don’t hesitate to connect.
Email: [email protected]