In March of 2021, Medicine Hat’s Sexual Assault Response Committee, or SARC, made the decision to change names and become the Sanare Centre.
Meaning “to heal” in Latin, the name was chosen to reflect a change in services offered, said Executive Director Christina Johnson.
“What happened was approximately, it’ll be seven years ago in March. So this upcoming March, it’ll be seven years ago. Due to community need, we decided to open up a sexual assault center, we kept the name SARC. And we have grown substantially since that time,” said Johnson. “When we launched we had four brand new staff, I was the oldest but we basically had four brand new staff when we launched into the state now we’re almost at 17 staff, we have a counseling program. We have an education program, we have a police in court support program called the victims navigation services program. And recently we’re working collaboratively with our partners to open up a child advocacy center underneath the Sanare roof. So what that meant is that we were no longer a response committee, we were now actually a center and that our services were broader than sexual violence when we added in the child advocacy center. So, it didn’t fit. So we decided to go through a rebrand so that it would fit who we are currently.”
The Centre offers many of the same services that they did when they first began approximately 40 years ago still, but has since seen great expansion in what they can do for those who have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence.
These services include a therapy program for anyone over the age of five years old who’s experienced sexual violence and those individuals’ support systems, an education program beginning two kindergarten-age children to help increase awareness of and prevent sexual violence and abuse as well as highlight what a healthy relationship looks like.
The centre also provides information for those looking to potentially file a report, and is working on opening the child advocacy centre that prompted the name change, which they expect to be finished in 2022.
“It’s really important to note that we are serving 43% more people than we were last year and that the pandemic has absolutely increased the number of people needing assistance in the area of sexual assault, sexual abuse,” said Johnson. “It is sad, and that’s why we need to talk about it. And that’s why services such as Sanare’s are so important. So if anyone has experienced sexual violence during this time, knowing that we’re here and that we deliver our services, both in person and virtually.”
Sanare offers support to individuals not only in Medicine Hat, but all the way from Bassano to the US and Saskatchewan Borders, and into the Grassy Lake area. They see people from all over this area, both coming in for support and over the internet or phone.
“That’s one of the things that makes us really accessible to individuals in rural areas. We also have rural partners that if someone can’t travel in, or doesn’t have access to the internet where they could go there and access services confidentially, remotely through our office through our FCSS offices, like for example in Bow Island and 40 Mile.”
Anna Smith, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prairie Post East