Funding dries up for Interlake’s crisis support program

An organization that supports survivors of sexual violence could be forced to stop offering a critical program after federal funding was not renewed earlier this month.

The organization’s executive director says it would be a significant loss for the people they serve.

“We are established in these communities as a trusted support,” Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre (SHCC) executive director Coral Kendel said. “And we already know that survivors of sexualized violence are hesitant to share their experiences for a number of reasons, including stigma, the possibility of not being believed, or because they don’t have a trusted person they can confide in.”

SHCC is headquartered in Pinawa, and Kendel said they are the only organization in the Interlake-Eastman region that works specifically with victims of sexual abuse and violence.

The feds cut the $62,000 SHCC used to fund its Sexual Assault Recovery and Healing (SARAH) program.

The program provided services including one-on-one and long-term counselling, support groups, 24/7 crisis support and information for those who have been victims of sexual abuse or violence, as well as support for those who report a recent or a historical sexual assault to police, and options for third party and anonymous reporting.

Earlier this month, Kendel said she was told the funding will not be renewed and if alternate funding isn't found the program will end as early as next month.

“This decision will leave a significant gap,” she said.

Kendel added many believe the SARAH program is one of the most important programs that SHCC currently offers and is needed in the Interlake.

“We are always busy, we are consistently seeing individuals utilizing our counselling programs and sessions every year,” Kendel said. “And we know the need is wide throughout the region, and that statistics show that rural Manitoba experiences higher levels of sexual assault than urban areas.”

She added the loss of the program would be a big loss for Indigenous people in the Interlake.

“There is definitely a larger focus and need in Indigenous communities and in bordering First Nations communities, and that is based on the legacy of residential schools and based on the harms that have been done, so the largest majority of folks who access our services are Indigenous.”

A federal spokesperson said in an email that when the three years of funding was promised it did not come with a pledge for ongoing funding past this year.

“In April 2021, the Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre received a three-year funding commitment totalling $168,849 from the Department of Justice Canada’s Victims Fund to develop a wrap-around support program for victim and survivors of sexualized violence,” the spokesperson said.

“Funding for this project was for a set period (April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2024), not on an ongoing basis.”

SHCC is looking to residents, organizations, businesses and governments, as they seek new funding sources for the program.

They have already started a ‘Help Save Sarah’ fundraising campaign which includes a GoFundMe page which can be found at

Kendel also asks anyone who believes in the importance of the SARAH program to speak up.

“We are hoping that people will voice their concerns, send letters to their governments, and we are really hoping that someone sees the value and steps forward to help us to continue.”

Anyone looking for more information on SHCC and the services they provide can visit

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun