Recipients of the 2017 Attorney General's Victim Services Awards of Distinction
Clive Algie, Yellow Brick House, Richmond Hill
Clive is a lawyer who has been providing free legal advice to the clients of Yellow Brick House women's shelter for many years. For the past four years, Clive has served on the board of directors for Orillia's Couchiching Jubilee House, which provides transitional housing for women at risk of becoming homeless, where he provides current and past clients with pro bono legal advice. Clive firmly believes that by helping these women navigate the legal system, they can ultimately break free of violence.
Casandra Diamond, BridgeNorth, Newmarket
Casandra has been working in support of trafficked women and girls since 2006. She is the founding director of BridgeNorth, an organization that works to restore the value and dignity of all women who have been trafficked or exploited. She draws on her own history and experience to create prevention and exit strategies, as well as safety planning for trafficking victims. Casandra also sits on the board of directors for U-R-Home, a safe house initiative in York Region, and is an advisory committee member for Covenant House.
Ashley Fontaine, Victim Services of Peterborough and Northumberland
As a program coordinator for Victim Services of Peterborough and Northumberland, Ashley devotes many hours outside of her regular work day to support victims of crime, managing a volunteer program and often working late into the night. Ashley is also vital to the successful operation of Situation Table Northumberland, which provides services to people in high-risk situations.
Debra Fowler, Windsor
In 1996, Debra was a victim of assault and stalking that nearly cost her her life. As a result of this experience, she became an activist and an active volunteer, giving presentations and training community partners such as 911 dispatchers and domestic violence police detectives in numerous communities. In 2005, Debra became the local coordinator for a provincial education campaign called Neighbours, Friends and Families. She is now a residential counsellor at Hiatus House and an avid supporter and activist for victims of domestic violence.
Elizabeth Kent, Victim Services Wellington
As the executive director of Victim Services Wellington for the past 15 years, Elizabeth (Liz) has dedicated her career to fostering healing and hope, while promoting a safer and healthier community. Liz's work often involves complex cases, including victims of homicide, human trafficking and sexual assault. To fill program gaps, Liz has taken it upon herself to apply for grants on behalf of her organization, which recently resulted in the hiring of an anti-trafficking worker. She has also worked collaboratively with OPP Wellington and the Guelph Police Service to start two successful programs: Project Lifesaver and the Mobile Emergency Response Systems.
David Todd Morganstein, Yellow Brick House, Richmond Hill
As a lawyer and volunteer for Yellow Brick House, which offers shelter and counselling to homeless and battered women and their families, Todd has provided legal advice to victims for more than 23 years. One day each month, he conducts free legal clinics for women who are victims of domestic violence, and he also provides eight hours of pro bono consultations monthly. Todd volunteers to represent both the agency and individual staff members when they need to testify in court. He helps staff stay updated on relevant legal matters by holding family law workshops and seminars on his own time. Todd is a strong advocate on behalf of abused women and supports their quest to live a life free of violence.
Ingrid Thiessen, Kitchener
Motivated by her own personal traumatic experience, Ingrid became a passionate advocate for victims' rights. She is a prolific speaker and often addresses local agencies and victims groups about her experiences. Ingrid is also an active supporter of the Kitchener Family Violence Project and acts as a positive role model for everyone in her life, especially her grown children.
Distress Centres' Survivor Support Program, Toronto
As the first program of its kind in Canada, Distress Centres' Survivor Support Program has been offering specialized bereavement support in the aftermath of a suicide for 38 years. The centre began informally supporting survivors of homicide 17 years ago and then formalized this service in 2005. Half of the centre's volunteers have been affected by homicide or suicide, and they work with the program staff members to help others when they need them the most.
Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers
The Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers has been raising the profile of victim service agencies across the province for 15 years. As a coalition of member agencies that support and collaborate with each other, Ontario Network of Victim Service Providers leverages its members' professional skills and collective knowledge to create more supportive experiences for victims in Ontario. Its volunteer board of directors actively participates in planning, oversight and operations, in addition to holding down demanding roles as the executive directors of various victim services organizations. Most recently, the group has created an interactive website to help better share resources and best practices.
Ottawa Victim Services
Ottawa Victim Services provides emotional and practical support, referrals and advocacy to victims of crime and tragic circumstance. With this referral and peer support service available to the Ottawa Hospital and its patients, as well as other community partners, victims of violent crime receive medical attention as well as treatment on a more holistic level. Ottawa Victim Services provides services in a trauma-informed and culturally sensitive manner to ensure victims have access to information, safety planning, and community referrals
Somali Canadian Association, Etobicoke
The Somali Canadian Association is a non-profit, community-based organization established in 1987. It provides a wide range of services to Somali immigrants and refugees, with a focus on helping newcomers adjust to their lives in Canada. Through frequent seminars and workshops, the association helps create public awareness of the needs of the Somali community. It also provides important information about Somali values to government and social service organizations so they can provide services in a culturally sensitive manner.
Waterloo Region Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Treatment Centre, Kitchener
Serving more than 500 clients annually, the Waterloo Region Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Treatment Centre provides critical resources to a growing community with complex needs. With a team of nurses and social workers on call 24/7 to respond to sexual assault and domestic violence victims, the centre also offers a pediatric clinic for known or suspected child sexual assault/abuse victims. Recently, the centre partnered with the Waterloo Region Police Service to offer a full spectrum of care to human trafficking victims.
Victim Services of Temiskaming & District
Victim Services of Temiskaming & District is marking 20 years of supporting victims of crime in the District of Timiskaming. Volunteers are the backbone of this organization, assisting victims of crime at any time of day, in all kinds of weather, and sometimes travelling to remote and unfamiliar areas. Over the last two decades, Victim Services of Temiskaming & District has had the assistance of more than 250 volunteers.
Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre
This year, the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre celebrated the 25th anniversary of its peer support program. Since 1992, more than 500 women from all walks of life have completed extensive training to provide volunteer peer support to victims of family violence in their community. Often survivors themselves, these volunteers act as an inspiration to the women who have made the courageous decision to start a life free from abuse. The peer support program currently has 50 active volunteers.
Women's Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County
The Women's Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County has been providing survivor support and public education for almost 25 years. It has gained a reputation for treating survivors with the utmost care and consideration, and for going beyond the call of duty to provide crucial support to women who need it. Clients have called the centre their second home, and praised staff members for giving them the courage to continue their healing journeys.