Victims and Survivors of Crime Week (Victims Week) is being held from November 14th to 20th, 2021.

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues is hosting a virtual Victims Week, including an opening ceremony and keynote presentation, workshops throughout the week, and a closing ceremony. Please visit the Program page to learn more about the events, including the event descriptions and presenter biographies, and to register. Registration is open until 12:00 p.m. EST on Friday, November 12, 2021.

To register for the virtual conference click here.


Conference Image
Overview of Events:

  • Opening ceremonies and keynote address (A Collaborative Response to Technology-Facilitated Violence to Ensure Canadian Women’s Safety & Privacy) (English) (November 15, 2021, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EST)
  • Serving Indigenous Clients Better (English) (November 16, 2021, 11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m. EST)
  • Remote Testimony at a Child Advocacy Centre: Theory and Practice (English) (November 16, 2021, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST
    From Sirens to Connection: A Community Trauma-Informed Care Model for Supporting Grieving Families Following a Sudden Death (English) (November 17, 2021, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST)
  • No Time for Goodbyes – Surviving and Moving Beyond Violent Death (English) (November 17, 2021, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST)
  • Implementing Victims' Rights: A Collaborative Project (French) (November 18, 2021, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST) (Accredited workshop – details will be shared with participants following registration)
  • TransFormed: Increasing Access and Decreasing Barriers to Gender-based Violence Prevention (GBV) Services/Supports for Two-Spirit, Non-binary and Trans Survivors of GBV (English) (November 18, 2021, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST)
  • Plenary session and closing ceremonies (Creating Communities of Care: Support for urban Indigenous and African-Nova Scotian women who have experienced violence) (Bilingual) (November 19, 2021, 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EST)

See below for full details:


Victims Week 2021 - Virtual Events Agenda

Monday, November 15, 2021-1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EST)

Official Launch and Opening Ceremony

Opening Remarks

Moment of Reflection

Presentation of Excellence Awards and Student Video Competition Award

Keynote Address

A Collaborative Response to Technology-Facilitated Violence to Ensure Canadian Women’s Safety & Privacy

The pandemic has resulted in increasing technology use and online activities every day. For women experiencing gender-based violence, the already high prevalence of technology-facilitated violence (TFV) increased and impacted their abilities to engage safely in our increasingly digital world. Evolving new digital technologies are used to stalk, impersonate, threaten, and harass women and girls across Canada. According to data from Women’s Shelters Canada, over 95% of women in Canadian shelters have experienced TFV. Since 2007, the British Columbia Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH) has collaborated with the United States National Network to End Domestic Violence and WESNET Australia to create a Technology Safety Project that has developed technology safety resources and training for anti-violence workers and stakeholders to support women and youth experiencing technology-facilitated violence. This training will include strategic methods for safety planning and safe technology use along with addressing how an agency’s use of technology in operational practices impact client’s privacy and safety. BCSTH’s work fosters cross‑sectoral collaboration and the project has trained and collaborated with law enforcement, court personnel, lawyers, child protection, tech specialists, and academics. This session invites cross-sectoral attendees to explore technology‑facilitated violence against women and learn about practical strategies and resources to enhance safety and privacy.

Rhiannon Wong
Technology Safety Project Lead
British Columbia Society of Transition Houses

Rhiannon Wong is the Technology Safety Project Lead at BCSTH. Through her project addressing technology-facilitated violence, Rhiannon has been researching and developing practical technology safety resources for Canadian anti-violence workers and women that address how technology can be used both to keep women and children safe and misused by perpetrators to commit crimes of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, impersonation, and harassment. Since 2007, Rhiannon has been delivering technology safety trainings across Canada based on the work of the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net project located in Washington, District of Columbia. Her training explores technologically‑facilitated violence against women, safety planning, privacy considerations and organizational technology use.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST

Workshop #1

Serving Indigenous Clients Better

This training will be focused on how to better assist Indigenous victims of crime in ways that are culturally-responsible. It will involve sharing front-line knowledge and experience from the work that Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) has done in support of victims, including ALS’s work with legal institutions and organizations in order to improve their service provision, cultural competency, and collaborative work with Indigenous organizations. Also included in this training will be segments from two films by presenter Audrey Huntley. In the first film, “Not Just Another Case,” interviews with family members and information about the law and legal processes aimed at helping families and friends of murdered and missing Indigenous people are presented to help Indigenous people navigate the justice system and access legal supports. The second film, “Smudge Don’t Judge,” is a resource for service providers designed to assist them in providing better care to Two-Spirit, trans, and gender non-binary Indigenous people who have survived violence. This resource addresses the transphobia and homophobia that they often experience when seeking services and was created in extensive consultation with the Two-Spirit, trans, and gender non-binary Indigenous community.

Photo of Christa Big Canoe

Christa Big Canoe
Legal Advocacy Director
Aboriginal Legal Services

Christa Big Canoe is an Anishinabek woman, mother, and lawyer. She is from Georgina Island First Nation. She has been the Legal Director of Aboriginal Legal Services since 2011. She took a two-and-a-half-year leave of absence to be Senior Counsel and then Lead Commission Counsel to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Christa has been before all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada; represents families at Inquests; and has been before various tribunals providing Indigenous perspective and representation. She passionately advocates for Indigenous women and children in multiple forums and legal processes.

Photo of Dr. Brandon D.C. Fenton

Dr. Brandon D.C. Fenton
Victims Rights Caseworker
Aboriginal Legal Services

Dr. Brandon D.C. Fenton has been a victim rights caseworker with ALS since 2016. He provides court support and support for those going through Criminal Injury Compensation and other legal processes as well as assisting in delivering programs (circles) to clients. Brandon received his Ph. D. in Philosophy from York University in 2014, where he is also a sessional Course Director in philosophy. He is a published author on the subject of intergenerational trauma and he has had long-standing involvement in several grassroots and NGO environmental and social justice groups in Toronto and was elected as Chairperson of the Board of toronto350.org in 2016‑17.

Photo of Audrey Huntley

Audrey Huntley
Paralegal
Aboriginal Legal Services

Audrey Huntley is a mixed ancestry (European/Indigenous) filmmaker and the co‑founder of the Toronto based network No More Silence — the group works to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans, and Two-Spirit people and support community efforts to end violence, land reclamation and land defence while asserting sovereignty. She received her paralegal license in 2015 and has been part of the victim rights team at Aboriginal Legal Services for the past five years. Audrey holds a Master’s degree in political sciences from the Phillips University of Marburg.

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST

Workshop #2

Remote Testimony at a Child Advocacy Centre: Theory and Practice

This presentation will discuss the most innovative testimonial aids utilized in Canada to provide child abuse victims with alternative methods of providing testimony in criminal court. It will discuss the process, challenges, and successes related to the implementation of one of the first remote testimony rooms in Canada at the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, as well as sharing case examples. It will highlight the success of the multi-system collaboration in ensuring this resource was developed and that it continues to be utilized. Additionally, the presenters will discuss the scientific theory that helps to explain why this innovative initiative may help to not only increase the accuracy of testimony, but will also assist in the quest for a just decision based on the truth.

Photo of Melanie Grylls

Melanie Grylls
Director of Programs and Integrated Practice
Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre

Melanie Grylls is the Director of Programs and Integrated Practice at the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre. As a believer in continuous learning, Melanie has found her passion combining social work and organizational development. Her enthusiasm for her work has led her to collaborate with organizations in the social work and human services fields. Her background includes work in the domestic violence sector, and experience in high-risk management. Her leadership work includes leading and developing teams, program development and strategic planning. Her portfolio includes victim support, prenatal outreach, forensic interviewing, facility dogs, education, evaluation, child life and integrated practices.

Photo of Dr. Sarah MacDonald

Dr. Sarah MacDonald
Forensic Interview Specialist
Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre

Dr. Sarah MacDonald is a Forensic Interview Specialist at the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in Alberta, Canada. She serves as a Director on the Board of the Alberta Criminal Justice Association. Dr. MacDonald provides education and training related to memory science and forensic interviewing, among other topics, to law enforcement in Alberta including judges, prosecutors, and physicians, among others. She has conducted and published research, including a book chapter, examining cognitive processes underlying investigative interview techniques, child sexual abuse disclosure, psychological-based investigative practices, and deception detection/credibility assessment. Dr. MacDonald has presented her research internationally and is a TEDx speaker.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST

Workshop #3

From Sirens to Connection: A Community Trauma-Informed Care Model for Supporting Grieving Families Following a Sudden Death

This training will present a model of community collaboration to provide wrap-around trauma-informed support to families in the aftermath of a sudden death, specifically after a homicide, suicide, overdose, or vehicular death. From the initial contact with victim services through one-to-one and group bereavement support, this model will highlight the benefits of early grief-informed trauma support, warm-hand-off referrals and trauma-informed bereavement support. Research, including findings related to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and best practices in bereavement psychosocial support will be shared. Engagement of marginalized populations, supporting children, youth, and families, and unique factors in grief following traumatic death will also be discussed. This training will also highlight the importance of grief education amongst victim services personnel in order to strengthen their service delivery and build capacity in their own communities across Ontario. This model of collaboration will assist professionals to engage big-picture thinking when helping clients navigate complex grief during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo of Sheila Bourgeois

Sheila Bourgeois Msc, CCLS
Hospice Peterborough

Sheila Bourgeois holds a Master’s of Science in Child Life and Pediatric Psychosocial Care from McMaster University and is a Certified Child Life Specialist. Sheila has an extensive background in family support through working with organizations such as the Mayo Clinic, Hospital for Sick Children, and Peterborough Child and Family Centres. Sheila is currently employed at Hospice Peterborough as their Family and Child Life Specialist, providing grief support for families and their children.

Photo of Alice Czitrom

Alice Czitrom MSW, RSW
Peterborough Police Service

Alice Czitrom holds a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Windsor. Alice has worked in Victim Services for 11 years. Alice is often one of the first on scene alongside police and offers support in the aftermath of a sudden and traumatic death. Alice also facilitates a grief support group for those who have lost someone to suicide. Alice works with families to ensure they are connected to on-going support long after the death. One of Alice’s most rewarding parts of her role is acting as handler for Pixie, Peterborough Police’s first Facility Dog. Alice and Pixie are recent recipients of the Ministry of Attorney General Victim Services Award of Distinction and a finalist for the Police Association of Ontario Hero of the Year Award.

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST

Workshop #4

No Time for Goodbyes – Surviving and Moving Beyond Violent Death

Violent death that is the result of a criminal offence is overwhelming and can often complicate the grieving process. This workshop will blend the presenter’s lived experience as a survivor of homicide and background as a victim support worker and victim advocate to provide participants with an understanding of the impact of violent death on survivors; what differentiates violent death from natural deaths; supporting survivors in the aftermath of violent deaths; and post-traumatic growth. Throughout this session, the presenter will share her experience of journeying through the criminal justice system and her experience of how restorative justice assisted her in the aftermath of the violent deaths of her mother and sister. Comparatives will be made throughout the session to a time prior to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) and the impact that the CVBR has had along with thoughts on challenges that persist.

Celine Lee
President
Pacific Region Victim Advisory Council

Celine’s journey into the criminal justice system began at the age of 15 after surviving an early morning house fire that was the result of a break and enter, and led to the deaths of her mother and sister. Over the past 30 years, Celine has provided a victim’s voice to policy, practices, and training related to victim engagement within the criminal justice system and restorative justice initiatives. Celine has spent over 25 years working in various capacities for police victim services and crime prevention programs. In June 2015, Celine joined the Pacific Region Victim Advisory Council and was elected Chairperson in September 2015.

Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST

Workshop #5

Implementing Victims' Rights: A Collaborative Project (French workshop with simultaneous translation in English) (Accredited Workshop)

Numerous measures have been adopted by the legislator to promote the participation of victims in the criminal justice process. A good knowledge of these measures and of the criminal justice process allows victims to engage with confidence in the justice system and to feel supported, respected, and listened to. This training aims to inform participants about the measures that facilitate testimony under the Criminal Code, the rights of victims under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, and their implementation through the guidelines adopted by the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP) [Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions]. It will also be an opportunity to present an innovative collaborative project between the Association québécoise Plaidoyer‑Victimes and the DPCP, namely the drafting of specialized fact sheets for workers who work with victims of crime and fact sheets for victims, their families, and the general public.

Photo of Annouck Balzer

Annouck Balzer
Prosecutor
Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales

Annouck Balzer is a prosecutor with the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP) [Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions]. She is a member of the team of the Bureau des mandats organisationnels [organizational mandates office] where one of her mandates is to take into account the legitimate interests of victims in the actions of the DPCP. She participates in the dissemination of legal information as well as in training in collaboration with partners, particularly in matters of sexual exploitation, and is also a prosecutor-trainer for "La Cour d'école", a legal and decision-making enrichment project for grade 5 students.

Photo of Arlène Gaudreault

Arlène Gaudreault
President
Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes

Arlène Gaudreault holds a Master's in Criminology from l’École de criminologie at the Université de Montréal. From 1993 to 2011, she was a lecturer in victimology at this university. From 2000 to 2012, she was a guest professor at the l’Université de Pau (France) for its Master's in Victims' Rights. A founding member of the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, she has been president of this organization since 1988, on a volunteer basis. Since the 1980s, she has been invited to speak at several conferences and scientific activities in Quebec, Canada, and France. Her expertise has been solicited to sit on numerous working committees and during consultations on assistance, compensation, and the advancement of the rights of victims of crime. For the past two years, she has participated in the work of the Committee of Experts on the accompaniment of victims of sexual assault and spousal violence set up by the Quebec Department of Justice. Mrs. Gaudreault has received several awards for her contribution to the development of initiatives in favour of victims and the promotion of their rights, including the Prix de la Justice awarded by the Quebec Department of Justice in 1997.

Photo of Nathalie Legault

Nathalie Legault
Assistant Chief Prosecutor
Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales

Nathalie Legault is an assistant chief prosecutor with the Bureau des mandats organisationnels [organizational mandates office] of the Bureau Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP) [Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions]. She is responsible for taking into account victims’ legitimate interests in the actions of the DPCP and leads a team of prosecutors who primarily handle cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, child abuse and the online exploitation of children. She has been practicing criminal law for 20 years. Having been in charge of prosecutions relating to physical assault, sexual assault and the online exploitation of children prior to serving as coordinator of the Steering Committee on Online Child Sexual Exploitation, she has developed extensive expertise on victims of crime.

Photo of Katia Leroux

Katia Leroux
Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes

Katia Leroux has been responsible for research and information at the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes since 2004. She also coordinates the annual training program and the editing of publications.

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST

Workshop #6

TransFormed: Increasing Access and Decreasing Barriers to Gender-based Violence Prevention (GBV) Services/Supports for Two-Spirit, Non-binary and Trans Survivors of GBV

The TransFormed Project was a multi-year, bilingual, community-based research project led by METRAC: Action on Violence in partnership with the Centre de Francophone with the goal of addressing service barriers and increasing access to health care, legal and social supports for Two-Spirit, non-binary, and trans survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV). This workshop will introduce the project’s innovative methodology and research engagement process. It will share key research findings on the experiences and impacts of IPV in Two-Spirit, non-binary and trans (TSNT) communities and engage participants in an exploration of the application of promising practices emerging from the research, for the provision of supportive, inclusive, and culturally relevant services for TSNT survivors of IPV.

Photo of Maiesha Zarin

Maiesha Zarin
METRAC: Action on Violence

Maiesha Zarin is queer, non-binary, Bengali, and Muslim. Maiesha works as an artist/filmmaker, community organizer, coordinator, and researcher within the queer and trans community. Maiesha has a variety of achievements they are proud of, including but not limited to: launching the TransFormed Project: Addressing Intimate Partner Violence in 2S/non-binary/trans communities virtual toolkit and resources; being featured in Buzzfeed’s Pride Film Fest campaign; speaking about being queer/Muslim in Inkbox’s pride campaign; helping program two years at TIFF Next Wave Film Festival; and creating a short documentary on queer Muslim artists.

Friday, November 19, 2021 - 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EST

Plenary Session

Creating Communities of Care: Support for urban Indigenous and African-Nova Scotian women who have experienced violence

This workshop will present the collaborative work of four community organizations in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who support Indigenous and African-Nova Scotian women experiencing violence. The workshop covers the historic and structural racism embedded in our societal systems including criminal justice, education, and welfare, which has led to the systemic failure of these systems to serve women from our populations of interest, and discuss the lived experience of these failures. It will then introduce the application of customary Indigenous law and Afrocentric worldviews as an alternative means to redress challenges in a culturally sensitive and effective way. It will share findings that showcase how these organizations have worked together since April 2018 – including during the COVID-19 pandemic – to develop a range of culturally-safe programs and resources to support women experiencing violence in their communities, with the goal of ultimately enabling a cultural shift of system responses to gender-based violence in urban Indigenous and African-Nova Scotian communities.

Photo of Shiva Nourpanah

Shiva Nourpanah
Transition House Association of Nova Scotia

Shiva Nourpanah is the Provincial Coordinator of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, and a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, University of Guelph. She is also Adjunct Faculty at the Department of International Development Studies, Saint Mary's University and School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University. She is researching the experiences of women with different migration statuses in accessing support for domestic violence, the role of advocacy in victimization research, and cultural safety for racialized women experiencing violence. She conducts knowledge mobilization for the Creating Communities of Care project.

Closing Ceremonies


Registration is open until 12:00 p.m. EST on Friday, November 12, 2021.

To register for the virtual conference click here.