"Power of Our Voices' is this year's theme for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, being recognized throughout Canada from May 29-June 4.
The 10th annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week hopes to raise awareness about services, assistance, and laws in place to help victims, survivors, and their families. It is also provides a time to recognize services such as, Victim Services, and the dedicated work they do.
Jennifer Sachkiw, Executive Director with Victim Services says there are a lot of people who may not realize all the ways Victim Services can help if you are victimized or in crisis.
"We get our referrals through the RCMP and we respond to crisis, victims of crime, and any sort of trauma situation. We provide emotional support, answer questions, provide practical assistance, and provide information that will help lessen the impact of the crisis for the victim. We keep victims informed about the investigative process and we help identify longer term needs by responding to the victim's concerns and supplying them with appropriate options for referrals to services within the community."
Sachkiw adds that the role of the RCMP is to get the job done while victim services is the soft voice.
"Their job is to investigate, to get to the bottom of, and the root of what that crime particularly entailed; victim services will often come in and help buffer that situation. So it is our job to help that person who is a victim of crime through the investigation all the way through the court process."
Sachkiw adds that so many people do not know what their rights are if they are victimized.
"Three of the things I would like to bring awareness to are that victims do have rights within the criminal justice system. They have a right to a victim impact statement, a statement of restitution, and every victim has a right to financial benefits (if/when they qualify)."
Victim Services will support anyone as long as they need, and their doors are always open shares Sachkiw.
"It varies from person to person because each person suffers from trauma in a different way our role is to help them find resources with in the community that can support them further and direct them to professionals that can really help them through the long term."
Victim Services currently has 15 members but would love to see that number expand.
"I would love to have a group of about 40 advocates, what we are trying to create is a solid foundation of advocates that all support one another within this process. We look for long term volunteers, people that want to be with our program for an extended period of time."
The goal of victim services is to eventually expand and help not only RCMP but work alongside EMS, Fire Services, and Search and Rescue.
"Ideally we want to support the entire community in such a way that we can respond to any and all crisis so we need to build our foundation of volunteers in order to do that."
Sachkiw adds she is hoping this week provides awareness to Victim Services.
"Creating awareness that we are here, and we are here to help people in times of crisis. Sometimes people may not know or think they need Victim Services but a few days later we may call and that soft voice coming through the phone can often help soothe or help with some thoughts they may not have processed"
Everyone deals and sees crisis in their own way, adds Sachkiw, and Victim Services will respond to any type of crisis without judgement.
If you would like to utilize Victim Services or you would like to volunteer, Sachkiw can be reached at 403-851-8055.