Oniqua Kamaka (left) and Connor Jamison-Guitard (right). The event staff work part-time co-op positions with The Lighthouse. Photo credit: Alex Lambert

#IBelieveYou day has become a national social campaign, going from a local Albertan cause to spreading to colleges across the nation, including Algonquin College.

“We believe you. We want you to be heard and we’re here to support you. This is a safe space,” said Oniqua Kamaka, a student support services volunteer at Algonquin College.

“We know survivors feel withdrawn from society because they feel like it was their fault. We want to let them know there are people who will believe and support them.”

Nearly two million Albertans have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime, according to an AASAS press release.

At Algonquin College, a booth was available for students to take photos to share online from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Sept. 19. Eighty students visited the booth. It was expected to return on the same day next year.

The #IBelieveYou campaign has reached nearly 50 million people online and taken hold of campuses and communities across the province.

The social campaign was started to educate students on navigating healthy relationships and responding to a disclosure of an assault. Similar to the #MeToo movement, it was organized with empathy and awareness.

In doing so, they are sending a vital message to survivors.

“Outreach initiatives like this put the conversation in the public eye so it’s not a taboo subject,” said Connor Jamieson-Guitard, a third-year child and youth care student. “Real people are affected by this.”

Project Lighthouse, a Student Support Services program, organizes sexual violence prevention training, events and giveaways during the first six weeks of school.

The Student Wellness Zone set up a table with condoms, safe sex guides and a Project Lighthouse branded photo backdrop.