Justice Minister Peter MacKay dropped into Maple Ridge last Thursday to dish out $310,000 over two years to help traumatized kids tell their stories.
The money will help stabilize the Alisha’s Wish Child and Youth Advocacy Centre and
Coun. Craig Speirs supported the contribution from his Conservative counterparts.
“It’s an excellent piece,” he said.
“It’s about prevention – and not creating more victims, or more intensely victimized people,” said Speirs, who was representing Mayor Nicole Read at the presentation.
The centre is a place where police, prosecutors, family or counsellors can bring kids who’ve been victims of violence.
The idea is to bring them into a nice environment and talk to them about what happened and try to get evidence to support prosecution.
“And to do it in a way that doesn’t create more trauma.”
Having a victim explain what happened in a police station could be more harmful.
Helping out kids will prevent the creation of drug addicted or mentally ill people on the street in later years, he added.
“There’s a direct connection to that.”
For Conservatives, it’s a tough-on-crime issue. But for Speirs it was a “create-a-more-just-society issue.”
Speirs, now on Maple Ridge council, ran for the NDP in the last federal election.
Randy Kamp, Conservative MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, was also at the presentation.
“Centres like these create safe, child-focused environments where victims and their families can go to receive the services they need, both to navigate the criminal justice system, and to heal,” MacKay said in a release.
The centre also makes it easier for police to monitor the interviews that are undertaken by specially trained people.
The centre was formed in 2013 as a pilot project integrating the work of police, counsellors, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and victim’s services in helping kids who’ve been traumatized or abused or who have witnessed violence.
The centre provides a “child-centred environment” to help victims without re-traumatizing them, said Vicki Kipps, with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services.
The money will allow the centre to do cross-agency training, hire a consultant to make a long-term plan and develop specialized medical examination services.
Since 2010, the federal government has spent $10.3 million through the Victims Fund for child and youth advocacy centres across Canada, said the Department of Justice in a release.
“The work of a multidisciplinary team … can greatly reduce the emotional and mental harm to child and youth victims involved in the criminal justice system.”