Recipients of the 2016 Attorney General's Victim Services Awards of Distinction
Michelle Barclay, Halton Region
Described by police officers as 'invaluable' and by victims as an 'angel', Michelle Barclay is making a big difference in her community. As a volunteer with the Halton Regional Police Victim Services Unit, Michelle has been responding to people in crisis for thirteen years. When other people are home with family and friends during the holidays, Michelle is signing up for extra volunteer shifts. She is an inspiration to her fellow volunteers, providing guidance and support and assisting with training and victim service events. Her selfless acts of kindness and compassion have earned the recognition of her colleagues and the people she helps so compassionately.
Mohit Bhandari, Hamilton
Dr. Mohit Bhandari is an energetic advocate whose commitment to research and educating orthopaedic surgeons on how to respond to intimate partner violence is helping to improve outcomes for victims. Dr. Bhandari is the honorary chair of the Interval House of Hamilton's Male Leadership Forum to End Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence Committee. Under his leadership, the committee is examining the reality of intimate partner violence and exploring how they, as influential local leaders, can help create system-wide change. Dr. Bhandari leads by example, and his positive influence will continue to effect widespread change for victims of violence.
Child Advocacy Centre of Simcoe/Muskoka
The Child Advocacy Centre of Simcoe/Muskoka's multidisciplinary, child-friendly approach has had a tremendous impact on community response to child abuse and neglect. Founded in 2014, the child advocacy centre focuses on creating a safe and neutral place for children and youth to tell their stories. Staff members go above and beyond to tackle the issues of child abuse and human trafficking and demonstrate exceptional leadership in educating the community about the dangers facing children and youth. The Child Advocacy Centre of Simcoe/Muskoka is the only child advocacy centre in Ontario to offer abuse prevention programming. To date, over 15,000 children and youth have taken part in its education programs.
Embrace Her with Love Collective, Ohsweken
The Embrace Her with Love Collective from Six Nations of the Grand River is spearheaded by Chastity Martin, Norma General, Aileen Joseph, Chief Ava Hill and the Ganohkwasra Family Assault Support Services, and in particular their executive director, Sandi Montour. The collective began working together in 2014 as a way to honour the lives of women from the Six Nations community who have gone missing or been murdered. Together the members demonstrate an unwavering dedication to their community, and a heartfelt commitment to ending violence against indigenous women. The collective creates programs to support families affected by such tragedies, and last year organized a summer concert to raise funds for their work.
Family Counselling & Support Services for Guelph-Wellington, Guelph
Family Counselling & Support Services for Guelph-Wellington has met a growing need to support male youth at risk of committing family violence. The centre created the Peaceful Alternatives Group for Youth at High Risk program, which works with male youth who have been exposed to domestic violence and exhibited aggressive behaviour. The program teaches participants non-violent and non-abusive ways to resolve conflict using media, discussions and skills-based strategies. By engaging individuals at risk of committing family violence early, Family Counselling & Support Services for Guelph-Wellington is helping to end the cycle of violence.
Elizabeth Gajewski, Toronto
Many clients at the Roncesvalles office of Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services would agree that their lives have changed due to the counselling and support they received from manager Elizabeth Gajewski. More than two decades ago, Elizabeth identified a serious need to support families and victims of violence in the Polish community. She has worked tirelessly to put programs and services in place to help victims from the Polish community and from other East European regions. For many community members, Polycultural is the only place they can turn to - some clients are isolated, some don't speak English and many are afraid of leaving abusive relationships. Elizabeth has helped Polycultural become a recognized and respected place where people in need can receive confidential and meaningful help.
Shelley Gilbert, Windsor
Shelley Gilbert is a tenacious supporter of victims of human trafficking. As the coordinator of social work service for Legal Assistance of Windsor, she goes above and beyond to advocate and create support systems for trafficked victims, including safe housing and employment, and provision of basic needs. Shelley works closely with victims as they go through the criminal justice system. Her work with the police has led to charges being laid in various human trafficking cases. Shelley also provides education about human trafficking and training to social work students at the University of Windsor. Her energy, credibility and commitment has made a lasting impact in the Windsor-Essex and surrounding regions.
Julie-Jeanne Latrémouille, Ottawa
Julie-Jeanne is not only the coordinator of Ottawa's Comité Réseau, a committee of French-speaking women who are working to end violence against women, her nomination indicates she is also a survivor herself. Having escaped an abusive relationship where she experienced extreme violence from her partner and numerous physical assaults that nearly ended her life, she has become a true source of inspiration for others. With the help of community services, Julie-Jeanne was able to escape domestic violence and start a new life. Her motivation and enthusiasm have inspired a new vision for the Comité Réseau. She acts as the organization's spokesperson and also contributes her time and energy to volunteer for the Ottawa Sexual Assault Centre. Julie-Jeanne is passionate about the development of French-language services for women who are victims of violence.
Yvonne Lindfield, Ottawa
In 2007, Yvonne Lindfield's world was shattered when she was informed that her only daughter had been viciously attacked and murdered in St. John's, Newfoundland. This devastating event became the driving force behind Yvonne establishing "Canadian Parents of Murdered Children and Survivors of Homicide Victims". Its mission is to provide ongoing emotional support, education and assistance to all survivors of homicide victims in the aftermath of murder. Yvonne now speaks about the impact of murder on the family unit at workshops she has developed, and presents to professionals working with victims of crime and to victim service agencies across Ontario. She was presented with a People's Choice Award for 2010 by the Kanata Chamber of Commerce and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 in recognition of her tireless work to assist the survivors of homicide victims.
London Family Court Clinic, London
The London Family Court Clinic has been addressing the needs of youth and families involved in the justice system for the past 41 years. The organization provides special care and compassion to victims of crime. For example, in the Child Witness Project, a registered social worker helps young victims testifying in court make sense of their experience, using supports that are appropriate for their age and level of victimization. The London Family Court Clinic was also the first in Canada to introduce the use of closed-circuit television, so that a child victim doesn't have to face their accused while testifying. The clinic is highly regarded in the community for creating the gold standard in clinical assessments, prevention, intervention and expert testimony in areas such as domestic violence, sexually-based offences and child welfare.
St. John Ambulance Support Dog Project, Newmarket
The St. John Ambulance Support Dog Project at the Newmarket Courthouse gives victims of child abuse and sexual assault the option of receiving comfort from highly-trained and lovable dogs. Boss, Tessa, Pugsley and China help to calm clients who are distressed and distract victims who are feeling anxious about going into the courtroom. The dogs' handlers, Leslie, Debbie and Amanda, are volunteers who dedicate many hours of their time to bringing happiness to those in need. Based on the positive comments that the Project has received, the dogs have made a difference in many victims' court experiences. They offer vulnerable victims a welcome distraction and an opportunity to receive unconditional comfort, joy and companionship.
Ellie Stones, Barrie
Motivated by her own personal traumatic experience, Ellie Stones became involved with Barrie Police Services and now visits various schools to teach children about safety. She also stars in "Ellie's Safety Tips", a TV show that teaches children what and what not to do when faced with potentially dangerous situations. Her willingness to share her experiences helps other children learn from her example.
Kerri Tadeu, Kingston
Kerri kept an incident secret for many years. When she finally came forward, she found a voice for herself and since then has shared her story to help empower victims and survivors. She gives tirelessly of her time, despite being a psychiatric nurse, wife and mother of four young children. Kerri has sat on the Federal Victims Advisory Committee and has presented to police officers and community agencies throughout the province. Kerri is also the author of "Secrets Keep You Sick", which she hopes will inspire other victims to come forward. She has taken her own tragedy and used it to encourage others to move beyond their pain.
Lindsay Upton, Toronto
Lindsay Upton began her career as a Crisis Counsellor with Victim Services Toronto in 2003 and right from her first day on the job, she showed her dedication and passion for helping clients in severe emotional distress. Lindsay would work well beyond the regular 40 hour work week, often coming in at a moment's notice to ensure that clients' needs for safety, assistance and support were met. After four years, she was promoted to program manager of the Victim Quick Response Program. While managing this essential program, Lindsay continues to put her clients as her top priority. Colleagues from other agencies and government services go out of their way to praise Lindsay's tireless commitment to those who need her.
York Region Centre for Community Safety
Within the York Region Centre for Community Safety, thirty organizations work together to quickly and efficiently deliver services to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual abuse. By bringing the necessary supports together under one roof, victims are able to access necessary services in a streamlined and efficient manner. This service delivery model minimizes stress and puts clients first. To date, the York Region Centre for Community Safety has supported 900 adults and 840 children with over 3,000 visits.