(Sheri Regnier photo)

Trail memorial event honours victims and survivors of crime

Community invited to unveiling of memorial bench on Tuesday

The Greater Trail community is invited to reflect on victims and survivors of crime in a gathering that local service agencies will host together in Jubilee Park on Tuesday, May 28.

Read more: Greater Trail Victim Services taking more proactive approach

A dedicated bench, adjacent to the Trail Riverfront Centre, will be unveiled at 11:30 a.m. to memorialize all those affected by crime. The event honours national Victims and Survivors of Crime week, which runs across Canada from May 26 to June 1.

“When crime happens in a community it often affects everyone on some level,” says organizer Gail Birks. “So in order for any healing to begin in our community we need to come together to stand in unity to break down barriers and stigma and collaboratively heal as a whole,” she shared.

“These are the principles behind Restorative Justice. Our bench will symbolize that victims do not have to suffer alone and that our community does stand behind and support them.”

The Greater Trail Community Justice Program Society, known as the restorative justice program or “RJ” for short, has joined forces with Greater Trail RCMP Victim Services and Specialized Victim Services of the Trail FAIR Society to unveil the bench and have it blessed with a smudging and healing song by a First Nations representative.

The Kiwanis Club of Trail will be on-site hosting a free barbeque lunch for attendees.

“Victimization happens in a wide variety of ways and through many different outlets,” said Birks, chair of Trail RJ. “We will bring together our Greater Trail community through the power of collaboration on May 28 to celebrate survivors and let those who may be suffering alone know there are resources available to them in our community such as RCMP Victims Services and FAIR.”

The Greater Trail Community Justice Program, originally known as Trail Youth Justice Program, began in 1996 when interested community members came together to talk about an alternative way of addressing youth crime in Trail and the surrounding communities.

The program and services it delivers are based on the principles of Restorative Justice (RJ). It was administered by an advisory board until 2007 when it became a registered society, and began accepting referrals involving adults who have engaged in offending behavior.

The volunteer board is comprised of community members, RCMP, local government, and victim services. The program coordinator and facilitators are also volunteers from within the community.

“Restorative Justice focuses on reconciling the victims, offenders and community as a whole,” said Birks. “By addressing the harm caused by the crime as opposed to punitive restitution, everyone is given the opportunity to heal and most importantly they are all involved in the healing process. The program’s focus is on young offenders who are first time offenders that will benefit from this process,” she explained.

“Often when youth see and feel how the crime has affected their victims, it can be very empowering. Not to mention, avoiding the formal criminal justice system is the key because once a youth goes through the formal criminal justice system it can have long lasting devastating consequences for them.”

Most of the youth who partake in this program never commit another crime, she said.

“The victims feel justice was served and often the community benefits as the restitution piece often comes in the form of some type of community service/work.”

Victims and Survivors of Crime Week is an annual outreach initiative of the Justice Canada Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI). PCVI works to give victims and survivors a more effective voice in the criminal justice system by pursuing a range of activities and initiatives.

The goal of Victims and Survivors or Crime Week is to raise awareness about the issues facing victims and survivors of crime and about the services, assistance and laws in place to help victims, survivors and their families.

Victims and Survivors or Crime Week is also a time to acknowledge the work of service providers and their dedication to assisting victims and survivors of crime and their families.

The theme for 2019 Victims and Survivors Crime week is “The Power of Collaboration.” This theme recognizes that over the past three decades, the country has made significant advances within the criminal justice system and victim services field to increase collaboration and to better respond to the various needs of victims of crime.

“There is a continued need within the criminal justice system and victim services field for increased cross-sector collaboration, as well as enhanced coordination, partnerships, and multi-disciplinary responses to better support victims,” PCVI organizers state.

“More can always be done to address gaps in the continuum of services and to break down barriers for better access to the meaningful supports that victims depend on throughout the criminal justice process.”


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