This is National Victims of Crime Awareness week and victims and victim-serving organizations, government and non-government agencies, individuals and their families will be participating in events across the country to raise awareness of the issues faced by victims of crime.
On April 28th, Kelowna will be one stop on the tour of the Five with D.R.I.V.E Foundation’s Freedom Walk to raise awareness on behalf of victims in Canada. The Freedom Walk hopes to raise $500,000 to support the Canadian Crime Victim Foundation (CCVF) and the CCVF Secondary School Scholarship to support students that advocate for victims of crime. Five men, covering over 4,800 kilometres, 5 provinces from BC to Ontario, and 40 towns and cities in Canada - I encourage everyone to come out and support their efforts. For more information please go to www.freedomwalk.ca .
Ensuring awareness and creating a culture of support is the key. As Sue O’Sullivan, Canada’s Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime wrote in the Hill Times this week: “Undoubtedly all parts of the justice continuum are crucial … yet for too long there has been an uneven focus, both in the criminal justice system and in public dialogue, on offender-management issues rather than the direct treatment and rights of victims within the system.”
For some time now our federal government has made the concerns of victims a priority and has remained committed to making meaningful changes to help victims of crime by providing them with the support and tools that they need.
Not only has our government taken steps to ensure that criminals are held fully accountable for their actions but it also has ensured that the safety and security of law-abiding Canadians and victims come first in Canada’s justice system.
That is why the Government has introduced an act to amend the Criminal Code (victim surcharge) that will make convicted offenders more accountable to victims of crime.
The surcharges, which will be used by the government of the province or territory where the crime occurred, will ensure that victim support services receive the funding they require and support those like the dedicated professionals and volunteers in our community who work with victims of crime and their families to help them take a path towards healing.
Across the country, thousands of people every year seek help from victim services offices. Being a victim of crime can be a life-altering experience and how an individual may chose to move their life forward after being victimized will be unique to the person and the situation.
In Kelowna, services for victims of crime are available from the RCMP, and for victims of abuse, at the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society (COEFS) and the Regional District of Central Okanagan Victim-Witness Services.
If you or your family needs support, help is a phone call away. You can call the Kelowna RCMP at (250) 762-3300 or the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society at (250) 763-4613.
In addition, Kelowna and Lake Country have community policing centres located at Mission Community Policing Office, 4065 Lakeshore Drive, Kelowna (250) 764-5004, at the Rutland Community Policing Office, 115 McIntosh Road (250) 765-6355, and at 3231 Berry Road, Lake Country (250) 766-2288.
More information on the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society can also be found at www.beyondcrisis.ca.
As always, if you have any questions about these issues or want to share your views about federally-related matters, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (250) 470-5075 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Information is also available on my website at www.cannan.ca.
We are still accepting nominations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal program. If you know of someone who has made a significant contribution to our community or country, you can nominate them by completing a Nomination Form at my website www.cannan.ca .
Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.
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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.
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