A helping hand in a time of need

Feden Abeda is leading the charge for the new Office of Safe Disclosure and is focused on helping the MRU community with the safe disclosure of concerns related to conduct, including harassment and discrimination


Feden Abeda

Abeda holds a Bachelor of Social Work and understands what it takes to develop trauma-informed systems and policies.


Feden Abeda isn’t afraid of a challenge and can’t resist an opportunity to help build something from the ground up.

This inclination to jump into something new and immerse herself in the campus community is what has helped her to settle into her role as Mount Royal University’s new safe disclosure advisor. Abeda leads the Office of Safe Disclosure, which is a neutral, informed and confidential resource to ensure students, staff and faculty understand the University’s policies and processes. The Office of Safe Disclosure also facilitates concerns related to human-rights protected grounds, discrimination and harassment.

“Feden’s prior experience with training lawyers who represent survivors of gender and racially based violence as well as harassment and discrimination in the workplace is what makes her a great fit as our first safe discosure advisor,” says Amy Nixon, general counsel and university secretary who oversees the Office of Safe Disclosure. “She will play a significant role in providing input on frameworks and resources related to conduct at MRU.”

Abeda holds a Bachelor of Social Work and understands what it takes to develop trauma-informed systems and policies. But she’s also an artist who is in her element when given an opportunity to step back, assess a situation and consider a creative approach. As she continues to learn her way around campus and meet many new faces, she took some time to answer questions in an effort to help the MRU community understand how best to access her expertise and resources from her office.

 

Hi, Feden! Please tell us about yourself.

In my father’s language, my name means the seed of the perennial flower. I have a background in social work and art. I’m a painter, singer/songwriter and I dabble in many creative mediums.  My ancestors used art as a tool for healing, which is something I am really passionate about. I also really love animals — especially dogs.

 

What is it about this role that piqued your interest?

What attracted me to this role is that I have never seen myself as one thing. I like a lot of diversity, and as an artist and creative thinker I like to build new things. I approach problem solving in a creative way and really appreciate working with a multidisciplinary team. I knew this role would allow me to connect and collaborate with many different types of thinkers and folks from different backgrounds and professions.

 

How do you describe your role and how you support students and employees at Mount Royal University?

I think the most important thing to understand about my role is that I’m available to everybody at MRU — students, faculty, staff, the entire community — here on campus. I see myself as a central contact point to make disclosures. I work to create a safe and trauma-informed environment for folks to share concerns around equity, human rights, racism, harassement and discrimination. I also work to build relationships with other supports and services across campus, so if someone does reach out to me for support that is outside my scope of practice, I can refer them to the appropriate area. I am not a replacement for the formal services we currently have, I am more of a shepherd to guide people to the resources and processes already available.

Also, because this role is meant to fill a gap in the community, I work to identify trends and patterns on the disclosure side, within the limits of confidentiality, and share what I’m observing with appropriate decision makers so we can look at long term, macro-level changes and different strategies to address recurring issues. This could be through policies, workshops and educational campaigns.

 

As the safe disclosure advisor, you lead the Office of Safe Disclosure. Can you give us an idea of the type of situations where you help students and employees navigate?

I can help in a number of situations. If, for example, there was a conflict between a student and their professor, I can assist. There can also be many forms of harassment or conflicts in the workplace and those who might experience discrimination where I can offer guidance.

 

What happens when someone makes a disclosure?

Once a disclosure is brought to me, I first discuss with that person what their options are and whether they want to access formal processes and policies that exist to file complaints. Depending on the situation, we can also explore informal conflict resolution and facilitate a dialogue. I also speak to folks about resources and supports, both on- and off-campus, that are available to them.

One of the most important aspects of a trauma-informed approach is to offer transparency and choice. This means to clearly share what choices people have and ensure they are informed of upcoming next steps when they prepare to make a decision.

 

What is the best thing about MRU so far and what are you looking forward to?

From what I know about Mount Royal, I must say that the people really have been the best part of this campus. I have had the pleasure to connect with so many different folks and everyone has been so kind, welcoming and warm and that really helps when starting in a new role.

I have also taken some time to take walks around campus and I must say that I really enjoy the rock garden. The dinosaur display is close to my office and is something that I often take the time to admire.

I’m definitely looking forward to experiencing a full year at MRU to truly understand the cycle of an academic year and the different initiatives I can look forward to on an ongoing basis. I also can’t wait to welcome the person who will be MRU’s first associate vice-president, equity, diversity and inclusion.

 

How should people get a hold of you?

I encourage people to visit the Office of Safe Disclosure website to read more about my work. There is also a form where they can connect with me directly or even request a meeting. I do my best to accommodate different format requests for meetings, so I can do video meetings, phone calls, emails or meet in person. I can also go anywhere on campus to meet people where they are at.

 

Learn more about Mount Royal’s new Office of Safe Disclosure.

Dec. 1, 2021 — Isha Thompson

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