Victims of homicide face grief and trauma that most of us cannot begin to imagine. And that hurt is often with them for life. To help these Albertans, the Edmonton Victims of Homicide Support Society was founded.
Edmonton couple Joyce and Noel Farion formed the society in 1995, the year after their son Scott was murdered. The group began meeting in the Farion’s living room but has now grown to such an extent that it holds a large conference every two years. This year’s conference features keynote speakers from Edmonton Police Service, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Allan Wachowich, the former chief justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta.
“I have been touched by every victim I have ever had to work with because of the unique circumstances they’ve endured,” said Colleen Connelly, acting manager within victims services and crime prevention in Justice and Solicitor General. “This is especially true for homicide victims. They deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion, and this conference fulfils that aim. It is a great information sharing and learning opportunity for victims, law enforcement, criminal justice professionals and those working with victims of homicide.”
The society, which received $35,000 from the victims of crime fund this year, provides emotional support to help parents, siblings and other survivors deal with their loss, and rebuild their lives. It provides a place where people can meet to share their grief and recovery. Together, these Albertans also share information about the criminal justice system and communicate with professionals about problems faced by survivors.
“Victims of homicide essentially do a life sentence along with the offender,” continued Connelly. “In many cases, they suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Many often experience secondary victimization when public details are reported. They may also suffer through their own support systems, because at some point someone will say: ‘Why can’t you just get over it?’”
“Research has proven that a support group like the Edmonton Victims of Homicide Support Society is ideal because it helps victims learn to live again.”
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General will provide $29.8million for victims of crime this year. The department funds and supports 76 police-based victim services units and 35 community organizations that provide programming and specialized services throughout the province.