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Recipients of the 2014 Victim Services Awards of Distinction

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Recipients of the 2014 Victim Services Awards of Distinction

Ministry of the Attorney General

The recipients of the 2014 Victim Services Awards of Distinction are:

Josée Bibeau, Peterborough

Josée Bibeau began her involvement with Victim Services of Peterborough and Northumberland as a volunteer crisis responder in 2010, and was soon recognized by clients, management and staff for her enthusiasm, dedication and intense drive to make the program the best it can be. She is now a permanent volunteer team leader whose peers say defines the term "going above and beyond" in support of victims. Constantly working to increase her knowledge, Josée completed the National Organization of Victim Assistance training independently, and is now working to develop an online interactive application to help victim services agencies better assist their clients.

Tammy Bullock, New Lowell

Tammy Bullock lost her 14-year-old son Brayton, in 2006, as a result of a tragic stabbing. Six years later, she agreed to help the Barrie Police Service with training police officers who are new to criminal investigations work. Police still describe her account as offering insight they had never experienced before. Her perspective on the lasting impact of the words, actions and processes of police officers on victims has helped the officers better prepare for the incidents they attend. She has continued to deliver the session to new groups of officers and has worked with the National Parole Board and other agencies on victims' rights training. In 2012, Tammy was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work with the Canadian Victims Foundation.

Cristina and André Duchesneau, Kingston

Cristina and André Duchesneau established the Danielle Duchesneau Fund in 1998, one year after the tragic death of their daughter. The fund provides legal and safety planning support for women who are victims of violence. Since that time, they have directed much time and energy to supporting initiatives that help victims. Cristina has served on many Kingston Interval House committees, including finance and publicity, and was a member of the board until 2013.  She created the poster "Today He Sent Me Flowers" directed toward young women in abusive relationships for use on Kingston transit buses. As well as supporting Kingston Interval House, André was a member of the board for Bereaved Families of Ontario, Kingston until 207.  He has also been active with Correctional Services Canada as a volunteer, and is known as a source of inspiration through his participation in various victim services and restorative justice initiatives.

Melissa Graham-MacDonald, Peterborough

Melissa Graham-MacDonald has worked with the Kawartha Haliburton Children's Aid Society for more than 20 years, and as the domestic violence intake worker for the past nine. Some years ago, she recognized that many domestic violence clients did not participate in counselling because of long wait lists. She participated in the development of an agreement with local counsellors that later became a formalized protocol, advocating on behalf of clients in need of immediate service. She has planned and implemented victim services public education events to reach out to farm families and lobbied for accessible group programs for mothers at risk. Melissa is well known in her community as a valuable resource and a strong advocate for victims of crime. 

Roseanna Hudson, Thunder Bay

Roseanna Hudson has been well respected as a leader, mentor and innovator in the Thunder Bay Aboriginal community for more than 25 years. She has advocated for and provided culturally appropriate victim services for people living in Thunder Bay who are from First Nations communities in the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, as well as the Robinson Superior Treaty area. She was a founder of the first provincial First Nations domestic violence community co-ordinating committee (Naadmaagewin Aboriginal Domestic Violence Committee) in 1999, and continues as its chair. Roseanna is also chair of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy Justice Circle, and is currently working with Thunder Bay municipal police to develop a culturally appropriate service model to help Aboriginal people involved in domestic violence.


Michele Liotta, Aurora

Michele Liotta, a long-term victim of domestic abuse, was involved in a court case for five years. Since then, she has been a source of empowerment for many women as a community volunteer and public education advocate. Michele's first public appearance was as a keynote speaker at a meeting of the York Region Domestic Violence Court Advisory Committee in 2011. She continues to hold regular training sessions for local victim services volunteers and police officers at intensive court training courses. She works with a number of community organizations, describing her personal experience to help others find the strength to come forward.


Sandy Milne, Ottawa

Sandy Milne, anti-violence program co-ordinator for Family Services Ottawa, has been a force for change in the field of violence against women for more than 20 years. She is a highly respected community leader who has broken down barriers for victims and empowered them to change their lives. She has achieved her goals by working with community partners, including families, police, medical professionals and the criminal justice system to ensure that victims have the help they need to succeed. Sandy has presented at many committees, including a national joint parliamentary and senate committee on the impact of violence against women in custody and access situations, and has created a valuable safety and planning tool for court accompaniment.

Steve Oliver, Lindsay

Steve Oliver is widely recognized for his outstanding efforts to help victims of crime in his role as a volunteer with Kawartha/Haliburton Victim Services, where he now sits on the board of directors. He has volunteered more than 10,000 hours to support victims in various capacities since 2002. Steve serves as an inspiration to police, community agencies and the volunteers he trains, and has been a major contributor to victim support in some of the area's most tragic and complex cases. Honoured by his peers as volunteer of the year and team leader of the year, he also serves on the board of the local Canadian Mental Health Association and local fair and agricultural society boards.


Margaret Schreurs, Orillia

Margaret Schreurs, a pediatric social worker, played a pivotal role in the vision and creation of the Child Advocacy Centre of Simcoe/Muskoka, which opened its doors in January 2014. Following a number of years of work focusing on children and families who experience abuse, she became a pediatric social worker, specializing in play therapy for children at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital. While maintaining her permanent position, Margaret travelled across North America to learn about providing high quality services to children. She then worked to develop partnerships with a wide variety of local organizations to advocate for a co-ordinated response to offer child victims of abuse and their families a safe place to heal.

David Swerdfeger, Amherstview

David Swerdfeger has helped to protect and champion the rights of victims of elder abuse, personally and professionally, for 25 years. He is the volunteer past-president of the Frontenac-Kingston Council on Aging, and led a regional effort to obtain funding for a 24/7 seniors support line, which now helps more than 1,000 seniors in need each year. Last year, together with other members of his interdisciplinary team of police, doctors and lawyers, David intervened in approximately 200 cases where elder abuse occurred or was suspected. He also trained more than 600 people to recognize and respond effectively to elder abuse in institutional and private settings in 2013.

Gregg Thomson, Oakville

Gregg Thomson turned to MADD Canada for support along with several other parents of five young people who were killed in a car crash near Kanata in 1999. The driver, who survived, had been smoking marijuana prior to the accident. Gregg became actively involved in working to bring drug-impaired driving to the forefront of public attention through media interviews, meeting with legislators and speaking to students. He began working with the MADD Ottawa Chapter as a volunteer, serving on the board and helping co-ordinate the filming of a video on drug-impaired driving that is shown in schools across the country. In addition to helping many other victims and survivors of impaired driving, often well into the night, Gregg is now chair of MADD's national board of directors, a voluntary post he fulfils in addition to his busy work schedule in an unrelated field.

Stephen Tooshkenig, Wallaceburg

Stephen Tooshkenig, a survivor of childhood sexual assault, endured a four-year court process and testified at trial. He has shared his story of healing with First Nations and North American tribes, colleges and child youth programs in many areas across the continent. He became a professional golfer, and has built a golfing business that involves mentoring, coaching and building leadership skills. An advocate for victims' rights and community building, he is the youth co-ordinator of the newly developed Bkejwanong Youth Facility of Walpole Island First Nation. Stephen, who has dedicated his life to helping youth, has participated in the Men of Hope tournament to raise awareness and resources for survivors of childhood victimization. In July, he and his sister, LPGA Tour golfer Cheryl Mitchell, will coach Team Ontario at the North American Indigenous Games in Regina.

Julie VandenAkker, Kingston

Julie VandenAkker, executive director for Victim Services of Kingston and Frontenac, has dedicated almost 25 years to helping victims in need. The passion with which she advocates for victims of crime and vulnerable people is recognized across the region. She has supported victims in some of the highest profile and most complex cases in the country, including crimes of homicide, sexual assault and domestic violence. In her current role, Julie represents her agency on many boards and committees relating to victim services, domestic violence and trauma in schools in addition to disaster relief emotional care and planning. She is a key go-to person when crimes or tragic circumstances, such as the destructive December 2013 fire in Kingston, have threatened the safety of local citizens.


Mary Waters, Peterborough

Mary Waters, a registered nurse with more than 40 years of experience, is widely known in her community for her work with victims of violence as a sexual assault/domestic violence nurse examiner at Peterborough Regional Health Centre. Her advocacy has inspired the administration of her hospital to develop collaborative partnerships with diverse stakeholders to build a stronger program for victims. She has gone far beyond her role as a nurse, co-ordinating community partners to work together on behalf of her clients. Mary has also worked tirelessly to implement a hub for women who need help to keep themselves and their children safe while considering next steps in dealing with an abusive relationship. The Support Team for Abuse Response Today opened in January 2013, and has served nearly 100 women in its first year of operation.


CALACS francophone d'Ottawa 

Centre d'aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel

CALACS francophone d'Ottawa provides support to French-speaking women and girls who have been, or become, victims of sexual assault. Founded in 1995, this centre is known as a leader in Ottawa's francophone community due to its commitment to finding the best ways to support survivors of sexual assault.  The centre offers diverse services to meet the needs of survivors, who benefit from respite services, counselling and support groups, thematic workshops, mentoring and coaching to help them regain a healthy balance to their lives. Clients recognize the intense commitment, professionalism and exceptional abilities of the staff. Local French-speaking girls and women are encouraged to become actively involved with CALACS francophone d'Ottawa. 

Luke's Place, Oshawa

Luke's Place is a resource centre devoted to improving the safety and experience of abused women and their children as they proceed through the family law process. Since 2003, Luke's Place has played an important role in supporting abused women in Durham Region, providing services that victims would often be unable to access or afford. The organization has focused on the development of a specialized response to support abused women. Its programming and services include both individual and group support and a pro bono summary advice legal clinic. The centre conducts nationally acclaimed research on issues related to violence against women and children, and the resource materials it develops and updates are available to women, staff, lawyers and other service professionals in the onsite library.

Maison Interlude House, Hawkesbury

Maison Interlude House is a community organization that offers professional support, intervention and prevention services that are culturally and linguistically adapted to clients. Over its 30-year history, the organization has developed services designed to meet the needs of women who are victims of family violence and their children, primarily in francophone and rural communities. It has implemented strategies and campaigns to increase public awareness of the cycle of violence and its repercussions and to highlight resources and laws available to support victims. Maison Interlude House is known for its unique model for intervention and its facilities, which offer a full range of services for families dealing with violence in all forms.


Victim Services of Renfrew County Inc., Douglas

Victim Services of Renfrew County offers support, counselling and respite to victims who are in immediate need. The dedicated and compassionate volunteers and staff provide the only 24/7 crisis response program for this large geographic area. It provides calm, non-judgemental support and crisis intervention and offers help and appropriate information to friends and family members of the victim to help them understand what has happened so they can offer better assistance. Victim Services of Renfrew County maintains excellent relationships with community partners, including police, fire departments and the health and justice sectors. The agency is well respected for providing leadership in victim services, advocating for the victim's right to immediate care and its high-risk prevention program.

YWCA Peterborough Haliburton, Peterborough 

The YWCA Peterborough Haliburton supports urban and rural women and children affected by domestic violence, providing innovative and effective programs. The YWCA also partners with community agencies and justice partners to provide shelter, second stage housing, counselling and outreach across a wide area that includes many isolated locations. Its Support Team for Abuse Response Today (START) serves victims of domestic violence over the age of 16. This team offered help including facilitation, training, community education and office space to local stakeholders and victim advocates to develop a service hub to support victims. Now, women are introduced personally, quickly and effectively to the agencies they need. Among its programs are a 30-bed shelter in Haliburton County, a two-bed rural safe space, and a 40-unit permanent housing community for women-led families affected by domestic violence.

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