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NU students present at DART conference

Kirsten Nicolson, Dr. Lori Haskell and Avery Saunter presenting the 
Ignite Canada project at the 10th annual DART conference.
Two Nipissing Muskoka students, Kirsten Nicolson and Avery Saunter, recently presented the closing remarks at the 10th annual Domestic Abuse Review Team (DART) conference.

The two-day DART conference features local and nationally recognized experts in the field of sexual assault and domestic violence exchanging knowledge that supports members’ work to develop policies, procedures and protocols to guide intervention and public education efforts.

This is the second consecutive year that students from the Muskoka campus students have been invited to speak at the conference. 

Nicolson and Saunter were invited to introduce the Ignite Canada project.  Both young women are in their fourth year of the Child and Family Studies program.  They founded Ignite Canada when they learned that there was no national memorial acknowledging women who have died due to violence, who are suffering violence or who have survived violence.

With the encouragement and support of faculty and staff at the Muskoka Campus, Nicolson and Saunter set off to develop a maquette depicting what their vision might look like if it were to become a reality.  With the help of Seth Rudin from Van Dyk stone in Huntsville, a three-dimensional granite model was created.  Nicolson and Saunter told conference attendees that they are actively working to raise the required funds to create a permanent  memorial on the grounds of the Muskoka Campus that will be an interactive space for learning, reflection and inspiration for all members of the community and communities across the nation.

Already featured in the Violence Against Women Coordinating Committees (VAWCC) provincial newsletter, Nicolson and Saunter are working with faculty, staff and the Ignite Canada advisory committee to prepare their message to communities, service clubs and service organizations around the province. 

They told the DART conference audience that “This project is not only about raising money to create a memorial to honour these women, but about the educational opportunities this process will bring. During our fundraising initiative we plan to speak to different community stakeholders as we hope to create an age-appropriate educational component for schools. We hope that even once our goal is reached, we can take this farther and continue to raise awareness and create change through various initiatives.”

Nicolson and Saunter and the Ignite Canada team are hoping to officially start the fundraising and awareness campaign in the next few weeks. ​ 
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