Folks, if you need help, advice, guidance etc… I urge you to seek out good people and keep them in your council. Here are some of the good ones I’ve met this year who have helped (so many others):
I heard Dr. John Butt speak powerfully in Vancouver on mass casualties and victims’ trauma. I believe him when he says the only real victims are the dead and the physically injured. For the rest, the slow process of victimization begins after the traumatic event, and is preventable.
2. Dawn Kelly, Vancouver advocate, formerly with B.C. Police Victim Services
I met Dawn Kelly in Ottawa in November 2003. She is the person who invited me to participate in CAVA. Dawn gave me a focus and put me to work. Thanks Dawn.
Holly lives in Western Canada. I like Holly’s advice to all of us who work with victims:
“be gentle to those who have been hurt and be kind to ourselves.”
Holly’s also the first rape victim I have met who didn’t make me feel stupid for not understanding what it’s like to be raped. That’s not as easy as it sounds, but she did it in a very fundamental way; she made it clear that our two experiences are different, but that we could work together and help each other by sharing information. Quite a trick.
After her daughter was raped at the University of Saskatchewan, Liz started the Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CASA).
I met the Petersons in British Columbia. They are advocating for the creation of Lindsey’s Law to create a National Missing Persons DNA Databank. I really love their website; it’s sleek and to-the-point.
6. Darlene Rempel, MOVA
We haven’t talked much on this site about the Manitoba Organization for Victim Advocates, but we should. Nevermind that Manitoba is the only province with a functioning victims’ bill of rights, or that their Minister of Justice, Gord Mackintosh is the envy of victims from all other provinces; the person that keeps all of this moving with a slow, willed determination is Darlene Rempel who started MOVA after the murder of her son.
7. Priscilla de Villiers – advocate, Toronto
Let me tell you a story about Priscilla. When I attended (in protest) the Policy Centre’s – Justice Canada’s – conference on “lessons learned from victims of crime”, I was having a hard time finding a friendly port in this bureaucratic storm. I asked a friend (Senator Landon Godfrey, to be precise – I move in privileged circles) to guide me. She said, “see Priscilla de Villiers”. So I approached Priscilla and, for the first time, I wasn’t treated as persona-non-grata. Priscilla took me in and explained to me the ground rules of victim advocacy in Canada. She is a kind and loving person, generous with her time and knowledge, always willing to guide and explain the labyrinth of Canadian victims issues. And it is a shame that her pioneer efforts in CAVEAT are now dissolved, and that her continued work in victims advocacy through the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime are also defunct. My hope for the new year is that Priscilla finds renewed energy in CAVA and will continue her mission. We need her.
8. Steve Sullivan, Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime
Ya, ya, ya… Steve’s a lawyer and most of his job involves lobbying for legislative reform in Ottawa – someone has to do it. Steve’s website at CRCVC is a great resource. I have met so many victims who, when I ask them, who was the first person that helped you in your cause, they say: Steve Sullivan.
9. Irwin Waller, Professor of criminology, University of Ottawa
Waller is the father of modern victimology in Canada (he worked in the Trudeau government for god’s sake!). Waller has a simple (yet daunting) blueprint for the future of victims’ rights in Canada. It goes something like this:
a. Legislate the creation of a fully funded federal office of victims of crime (like they have in the States).
b. Attach to it a permanent advisory committee.
c. Create an institute for unified policing programs.
d. After a, b, and c; make the priority victim reform (let’s get a working bill of rights like they have in Europe).
e. Champion prevention, that is… Reduce the number of victims.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
8. Pierre Hugues Boisvenu – Advocate, Quebec
Do I really have to mention again my profound admiration for Pierre Boisvenu? His new organization, L’association des familles de personnes assassinées ou disparues now has its website up and running: www.afpad.ca
9. Arlene Gaudreault, Directrice, L’Association quebecoise Plaidoyer-Victimes
Yes it’s true that I knocked the Plaidoyer earlier in the year for being an empty organization. But I did this in part because I was ignorant (I have to stop learning this lesson), and partly because I wanted to see if they would respond to the provocation. And they did. The Plaidoyer put on a great victim conference in Montreal in October. Arlene crossed the language barrier and invited me to speak; she took a risk not knowing what I would say or do (actually, Pierre-Hugues vouched for me.) Arlene is warm and kind, and a pioneer in the victim movement in Quebec, following in the path of Micheline Baril
10. Jo-Anne Wemmers, Professor, University of Montreal
An academic, but we need her. Jo-Anne Wemmers is one of the few people in Canada doing actual useful research in the areas of how victims respond to the process of victimization. A protege of Irvin Waller, she is extremely knowledgeable of the comparative justice systems in the United States, Canada and Europe. Her book, Introduction a la victimologie is a must read for those wishing to know the history of victimology in Canada (yes, it’s in French – common, learn the language already!)
11. Lola R., Quebec
I cannot tell you Lola’s real name. But she is kind and caring, and very courageous. Lola has greatly influenced my life. And I wish her peace this coming year. Lola, tu es dans mon coeur.
12. Deborah Spungen, victim advocate, U.S.A.
Spungen is the mother of Nancy Spungen (yes, that Nancy). She is formerly with NOVA and the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia. I met Spungen because I was trying to get her to speak at an engagement in North Carolina. She is smart and very funny. Her book, Homicide: The Hidden Victims changed my life.
13. Carmen Gill – Director, Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research
I only met Carmen recently, she is new to the centre. I mention her, and Muriel McQueen because it is one of the few organizations in the Maritimes (New Brunswick) I am familiar with (and Carmen came all the way to Vancouver to be involved!).
the other being…
The Beauséjour Family Crisis and Resource Centre in Shediac, New Brunswick whose director is Eva Leblanc. If folks have more info on good people doing good work in Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland let me know.
Where possible, I have included contact links where you can go and seek out these good people. So get out there and do good.
Happy New Year to you all,
UPDATE: Steve Sullivan wrote to inform me that he is definitely NOT a lawyer (my mistake).