Lacombe Victims Services (LVS) was finally able to highlight the importance of Victims and Survivors of Crime week in November. The event had been cancelled and rescheduled several times due to COVID-19.
The week is used to remind people of the issues facing victims and survivors of crime and the programs that are in place to help them. Across Canada from Nov. 22 to 27, events around the theme of resiliency were held to promote this message.
The speaker for Tuesday evening’s talk, Debra DeWaal, was originally scheduled to give her mental toughness presentation in the spring but was cancelled because of public health orders.
DeWaal worked as a Calgary Police officer for ten years, which included three years in the undercover vice unit. After leaving policing in 1998 she began working full time at her consulting company Safe and Sound. She provides presentations, one on one coaching and workshops on various topics such as personal safety.
Resiliency was the theme of Tuesday’s presentation and it was a timely topic for DeWaal. Just an hour before the doors opened she was made aware that her company would be forced to close for the second time this year due to the provincial COVID-19 restrictions.
“I am a resilient person and I refuse to let COVID-19 crush me,” said DeWaal when explaining how she reminded herself to keep going when feeling discouraged by the closure.
Debbie Barron the Program Manager of Lacombe Victims Services, who saw DeWaal speak at a professional development conference years earlier, organized the event.
“I think we’re all resilient but when all the bad stuff piles up, you need someone like Deb to bring it out of you,” said Barron.
Both of the women agree that it was a “blessing in disguise” that the pandemic forced them to reschedule.
There were originally 36 people registered for the event but around 20 showed up likely due to the newly announced public health orders that officially began on Friday.
Masks were provided to every guest and seats were spaced six feet apart to abide by the COVID-19 protocols.
During her presentation, DeWaal focused on how to develop techniques to help set and accomplish goals. She asked the audience to participate by sharing ideas of tasks they would like to accomplish. These included committing to a fitness regimen, becoming a better parent as well as educational goals.
The entire presentation was full of DeWaal’s personal stories that led to many laughs and smiles from the audience as well as some teary-eyed moments.
The goal of the event was to remind people that even when experiencing hardships and times of distress there are tools to overcome these challenges.
“If you have never struggled you would never know how it feels to truly triumph and succeed,” said DeWaal.
Barron said she hadn’t noticed a large increase in her caseload this year but that an increase was expected due to the state of Alberta’s economy as well as the pandemic.
After DeWaals presentation many people left talking amongst themselves about what they had learned as well as asking DeWaal questions and thanking her.
“My personal objective tonight was to have people walk away equipped with tools to add on to their already resilient selves,” said Dewaal. “That was my mission.”