We each hope that we will never be a victim of crime. The unfortunate reality, however, is that there were approximately 304,000 violent incidents of crime in 2005. Each victim of crime has a different story and experience with the justice system. Many have greatly struggled to have their voices heard and have turned their negative experiences into advocacy for others. It is this courage and action that warrants our recognition and support and why our Government is taking action to support victims of crime through the launch of National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.
National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, in Canada, was officially launched last week (April 22 - April 28, 2021). This year’s inaugural theme of It’s Time to Listen, emphasized the importance of continuing to listen to those who are most closely affected by crime: victims and their families.
Aside from raising awareness of victim issues, the week commemorates the progress made in the development and delivery of victim services, as well as the programs and legislation and policies that assist victims to participate more fully in the justice system.
Significant progress has been made by federal, provincial, and territorial governments, advocacy groups, service providers, and community members, to assist victims of crime. However, more discussions are needed and more victims need to be heard.
Our Government supports National Victims of Crime Awareness Week and its objectives. Furthermore, on April 23, 2007, our Government announced the first Federal Ombudsman for victims of crime. This Federal Ombudsman will ensure that the Federal Government meets its commitments; will promote access to existing Government programs and services; and will identify and explore systemic and emerging victim issues. It is part of a $52 million package for victims of crime announced on March 16, 2007, and fulfills a campaign promise by our Government, to better meet the needs of victims of crime in matters of federal jurisdiction.
The new Ombudsman will operate at arm’s length of the Federal departments responsible for victim issues, mainly the Department of Justice and the Department of Public Safety. The provinces and territories will continue to be the primary providers of victim services.
It is important for all Canadians to acknowledge and participate in National Victims Awareness Week, but it is even more important for us to work every day of the year to raise awareness about the needs of victims and their families and to listen to their experiences to be better equipped to support them.