Breadcrumb trail

Moment of reflection: Victims’ Week Virtual Opening Ceremony

May 13, 2024

Bonjour à tous! Good day everyone

It is a privilege for me to lead the moment of reflection as we begin this annual commemoration of victim and survivor courage.

I am speaking to you from the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people.

Since taking on the role of Ombud for Victims of Crime, I continue to witness the resilience and determination of survivors and people who have dedicated their lives to helping others. I have a sacred responsibility to listen, to learn, and to make room for the needs of survivors to be heard.

I would like to thank the Department of Justice and the really hard-working team at the Policy Centre for Victim Issues (PCVI) for your investment in Victims and Survivors of Crime Week (VSCW). All over the country, people are gathering for open-hearted conversations and sharing best practices in survivor-centred and trauma-informed care. People are coming together to discuss the Calls to Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQI+ people, they’re talking about the safety and inclusion of people who are trans or non-binary, the impact of online harms like sexual exploitation or hate, strengthening the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, and so much more.

Like many us, today I am sitting with feelings of gratitude, anger, hope, and loss. Over the past year, our team has listened to more than 1000 people asking for help and offering help, conveying frustration with how they have been treated in the justice system and sharing innovative ideas.

Many people who contact our Office want things to be better for others. When the criminal justice system causes more harm to victims and survivors, what are we doing? Whose interests are we serving? We have heard clearly that victims and survivors want enforceable rights in the criminal justice system. They want recognition that they were harmed. When public servants have access to information that affects a survivor’s safety or well-being, they want to be informed and not have the information withheld because of the privacy of the person who harmed them or continues to put them at risk.

In February, our Office announced to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, Minister of Public Safety, Minister of Defence, and Minister of Women, Gender Equality, and Youth that we are launching a national systemic investigation into how survivors of sexual assault are treated in the criminal justice system. If you have ideas to improve how we respond to sexual violence, or you work or conduct research in that area, we want to hear from you. We’re starting public consultation this summer.

We gather today to honour and remember those whose lives have been taken or forever altered by crime. In gathering, we recognize our collective journey of trauma, distress, recovery, ambivalence, and posttraumatic change. Every child, mother, sister, father, sibling, relative, partner, or friend whose life was taken through violence leaves us with a profound sense of loss that echoes through our families and communities. But our love continues.

We all need help sometimes. If you need support, reach out to services in your community, or contact our team if you have questions about victim rights or want information on filing a complaint.You are not alone. We stand together, and together we are strong.

I hope this moment of silence will be a catalyst for renewed commitment to action. Or, maybe it’s an invitation for you to rest and know that you are surrounded by a movement of people committed to justice and compassion.

Please join me now in a moment of silence to reflect, offer thoughts or prayers, and remember.

[Observe a minute of silence.]

Thank you! Merci! Miigwech!