This week in April is marked by the Government of Canada as National Victims of Crime Awareness Week. The 10th annual Victims Week is observed across the nation from April 19th to 25th.
It’s a time used to raise awareness about the many issues victims of crime face, the services and programs provided to them and the various laws in place to help victims and their families.
The theme for this year is ‘Shaping the Future Together’, which recognizes the actions made by victims, advocates, criminal justice professionals and volunteers, who continue to shape the future that will give victims of crime a voice within the criminal justice system.
The federal government has also introduced a concrete legislative measure in 2014 to ensure that these voices are heard.
Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, was introduced which gives distinct rights to victims of crime at the federal level. It recognizes that victims should have the right to information, protection and participation as well as the right to seek restitution.
Other measures have already been enacted that continue to recognize the important rights of victims of crime including Bill C-53, which ensures heinous criminals are kept behind bars for life and Bill C-26, that protects children from sexual exploitation and online crimes.
Throughout Canada there are countless dedicated professionals and volunteers who actively support making the future brighter for victims of crime.
Many of us may have been a victim of crime ourselves or have a family member who has been affected. As a victim of a crime, it can often be a confusing time right after the police leave, especially when it comes to navigating the criminal justice system. “What is the first step?” many may ask.
Since 1993, the Lacombe Victim Services Unit has offered support, information and referrals to people in crisis. The vital local organization has trained volunteers on hand who can assist victims and help to lessen the impact of crime.
Each victim’s circumstances are truly unique, but the advocates can often act as someone to talk to after the police first leave, provide advice on available community resources, information on restitution and available financial benefits, the status of a case, input into sentencing by a Victim Impact Statement and court preparations and accompaniment.
The Lacombe Victim Services Unit provides assistance to both primary victims, those who have directly experienced a crime, as well as to those who are beyond the immediate victim who may receive repercussions of a crime, such as friends, family members and co-workers.
Help for victims of crime is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Contact the Lacombe Victim Services Unit at 403-782-3279.