Victim Services Awards Of Distinction
The Attorney General's Victim Services Awards of Distinction were established in 2006. They honour victims of crime, as well as victim services professionals and volunteers, whose efforts have made a difference in their communities.
The recipients of the 2011 Victim Services Awards of Distinction are:
Victims of Crime:
Jeremy Dias - Mr. Dias is a passionate advocate for social justice. Through his personal story and the not-for-profit organization he founded, Jer's Vision, Mr. Dias offers hope to other victims. Jer's Vision is a national organization supporting and encouraging the work of youth to address discrimination in their schools and communities, and provides educational workshops for high school students about hate crimes based on racism and homophobia. The organization's advisory group helps to accurately reflect the voices of minority groups and marginalized communities in Ontario and throughout Canada. Mr. Dias and Jer's Vision are working with the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime and other organizations to develop initiatives to support victims of hate crime.
Kim Gibson - Following a horrific assault, in which she was stabbed multiple times by an ex-partner, Ms. Gibson became a tireless leader and advocate for awareness of and education about violence against women. Ms. Gibson draws upon her story of survival and strength to inspire other victims of intimate partner violence to seek the support that they need. She has also worked closely with Victim Services of Middlesex County in various roles, and devotes her time to speaking with other victims, victim service workers and police organizations to increase understanding of the struggles of victims of intimate partner violence.
Sparky J - Sparky J is a survivor of abduction, rape and childhood sexual abuse who chose not to remain a victim but rather to help other victims/survivors. She continues to help victims who have been impacted by crime and/or mental health issues and has started numerous support groups to help others find the strength, courage and hope to move forward in life. She spends countless hours working with individuals and families to help them find the support they need and shares her story with victims, at workshops and rallies. By having the strength to share her story, Sparky J has been an inspiration and her perseverance as an advocate has made a huge difference in the lives of many victims.
Timea Nagy - As a human trafficking survivor, Ms. Nagy is a relentless advocate for anti-human trafficking initiatives. To help raise awareness about the unique issues facing victims of human trafficking and to provide assistance for victims, Ms. Nagy founded Walk With Me, an organization that supports victims of human trafficking. She works closely with police organizations and service providers across Canada to increase their knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of human trafficking. She has received awards from Crime Stoppers and the RCMP Human Trafficking Coordination Centre. Having recently published her book Memoirs of a Sex Slave, she hopes to encourage others to rise above their victimization, so they can lead joyful and purposeful lives.
Vince and Dupont Families - Since the tragic deaths of Theresa Vince and Lori Dupont, their family members have worked tirelessly to improve workplace safety for women across the province. They successfully advocated for legislative change to Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act, raised public awareness about gendered workplace violence, supported other victims and influenced public discourse to ensure women are better protected in the workplace. The four family members to be honoured are:
Barbara Dupont (mother of Lori Dupont): Determined to bring about positive change and protect women in the workplace, Ms. Dupont has been a strong, courageous and determined advocate for legislative change to help protect women from workplace and domestic violence.
Jim Vince (husband of Theresa Vince): Over the past 15 years, Mr. Vince has attended numerous special events, media conferences and remembrances to help educate the public and increase awareness of workplace violence.
Jacquie Carr (daughter of Theresa Vince): Driven to highlight the issue of workplace violence, Ms. Carr researched and co-authored a report on workplace harassment and violence for the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children.
Catherine Kedziora (daughter of Theresa Vince): Ms. Kedziora worked diligently to bring about legislative and social change, ensuring that the recommendations from the inquest into her mother's death were not ignored or forgotten.
Victim Service Providers:
Julie Béchard-Fischer - A dedicated and compassionate victim services provider, Mrs. Béchard-Fischer has built her career on providing understanding, support and care for victims in some of their darkest hours. She is the founder and executive director of Cochrane District's Francophone sexual assault centre and Francophone women's shelter, and serves as a devoted volunteer on a number of local and provincial committees and Boards of Directors. As the chair of the Timmins Family Violence Inter-Agency Action Committee, Mrs. Béchard-Fischer has supported victim-centred initiatives, including the Abuse Shatters Lives conference and booklet, ensuring that its material was culturally responsive to the needs of Francophone and Aboriginal peoples. She is currently overseeing the development of two programs in partnership with the Timmins and District Mental Health Unit, and Child and Family Services of Timmins and District to help victims with mental health issues and ensure that Francophone women receive services appropriate to their culture and language.
Yevonne Culligan - Drawing on her experience as an outreach crisis counsellor at Herizon House Women's Shelter, Ms. Culligan has worked tirelessly to build strong and collaborative relationships between local police and women's shelters in Durham region. One of the key building blocks of this partnership has been the development of an educational work exchange project. In this initiative, Durham Regional Police toured Herizon House and shelter staff went on ride-alongs with police officers to gain insight into the complexities of domestic violence cases and to learn more about how police prioritize cases and conduct investigations. The project has helped to strengthen the co-operation between the shelter and the police, and has improved services for victims of domestic violence in Durham region.
Sophia Gran-Ruaz - Ms. Gran-Ruaz is a recipient in the youth category. In 2004, when she was just 11 years old, she founded Snug As A Bug - Kids Helping Kids, a charity devoted to creating care packages for children and teens staying in community shelters. The packages provide comfort during an often difficult and frightening time. Through Ms. Gran-Ruaz's persistence and commitment, 500 packages were delivered in the first year. Now, seven years later, 13,000 children and teens across the Greater Toronto Area have received a care package, and there are plans to deliver 3,000 more this year. In addition to running Snug As A Bug, Sophia regularly speaks at events at schools and conventions, and has inspired many of her classmates, teachers and community members to get involved in their own way.
Hearing Healing Hope - Through a unique cross-cultural perspective and the application of both clinical and counselling approaches that are rooted in Aboriginal healing, Hearing Healing Hope provides innovative services for male survivors of sexual abuse in the Owen Sound area. Serving both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men, it fosters greater sensitivity and understanding for men of all cultures and offers a strong Family & Friends program that helps educate and support family members of male survivors. The Hearing Healing Hope curriculum has been documented in a program manual, which includes an informative evaluation of its clinical services. Hearing Healing Hope also offers custom designed training for other provincial service providers and played a key role in the first provincial conference on male survivor services.
Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Services of Halton - Dedicated to ending sexual violence, oppression and inequality by advocating against violence in the community, Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Services of Halton has become a leader in providing free, confidential and non-judgemental support to all survivors of sexual assault. Through its 24-hour services and satellite locations, it has helped ensure that all women have access to its programs and counselling services when they need them most. The organization recognizes that victims' experiences with sexual violence can differ greatly. Its commitment to diversity is reflected in its employees, volunteers, clientele and work with survivors. In 2010, the Halton Multicultural Council recognized Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Services of Halton as a champion of diversity, inclusiveness and respect with the first annual Bill Allison Community Leadership Award.
Sexual Assault Survivors Centre Sarnia-Lambton - Committed to compassionate support and care, Sexual Assault Survivors Centre Sarnia-Lambton ensures that comprehensive crisis support, counselling, information and advocacy services are available to victims. Trained volunteers are available to provide victims with information, emotional support and counselling through its 24-hour crisis line seven days a week. The organization has helped develop important victim service programs such as Knowledge is Power and Footsteps Tribute to Courage - Never Walk Alone. It is also an integral member of the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres and has been actively involved with numerous committees and community consultations. Through its advocacy activities, educational programs and work with the media, the Sexual Assault Survivors Centre Sarnia-Lambton has increased the community's awareness of violence against women, sexual assault and sexual abuse.