May 15, 2023
Federal Ombudsperson for Victims of Crime
Ombudsperson's Moment of Reflection for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2023
My name is Benjamin Roebuck and I was recently appointed Federal Ombudsperson for Victims of Crime, following the brilliant work of Heidi Illingworth.
I am honoured to have been asked to present the moment of reflection for Victims Week 2023. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge my presence on the traditional unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Anishnabe people.
I recognize the position of privilege I bring to the role of Ombudsperson, as a white male settler. I hope that by listening and opening my heart to learn from the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples from Coast to Coast to Coast, that I can somehow contribute to reconciliation.
During Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, let’s choose action over words. I encourage you to donate to an Indigenous-led organization or support an Indigenous-owned business. Ask your Member of Parliament what they plan to do next about the #CallstoAction and #CallsforJustice from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Ask yourself what you can do.
In April, Manitoba Grand Chief Cathy Merrick called on the government to also acknowledge and act on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men and Boys.
This week, we gather to remember loved ones who have been taken from us through acts of violence, impaired driving, abuses of power, racism, colonization, and genocide. They are loved and missed every day by their families, friends, co-workers, and neighbours.
This week, we honour survivors. I know many are watching from home or work today, paused from your daily life. I honour the hard work you put in to sitting with the pain and trying to heal. I honour your strength and your brokenness, your courage and your fear, your hope and your cynicism. I’ve learned profound lessons from survivors, about self-acceptance, the value of anger, setting boundaries, how hard and transformative it can be to need help and to offer help. And from my friend, Margot, I’ve learned to reflect on “sawbonna” – our shared humanity.
This year, the theme for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week continues to be the Power of Collaboration. Throughout this week, we also honour families, friends, victim service providers, advocates working to end violence against women, we honour queer and trans activists who create safe spaces and more inclusive legislation, therapists supporting men and boys who have experienced violence, and people throughout the criminal justice system who slow down and show respect and listen to survivors.
Together, we are making a difference.
This past year, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST) announced unanimous recommendations to improve supports for victims of crime. Your collective work continues to transform the way we think about justice in Canada.
This means less people will miss a parole hearing because didn’t know it was happening, and more people can choose to be informed when the person who harmed them is released. This will also ensure more equitable access to victim services for Indigenous and Black survivors who are currently underrepresented.
So thank you, for using your voice and asking for something better. Consent matters. And automatically providing victims with a choice to receive information is respectful, ethical, and compassionate.
Now, we choose to slow down, to sit, and remember.
Please join me in silence, as we take a moment to honour and remember all those people who have been taken from their loved ones through acts of violence, and everyone who has survived violence inflicted on them.
Merci. Thank you.