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Abuse victims get $1.3M in support through new pilot project linking three Alberta centres

Posted by on February 06, 2015

Alberta’s most fragile victims of sexual abuse will receive $1.3 million in new support from the provincial government.

Minister of Justice Jonathan Denis announced Friday a three-year pilot project that would link three centres — Calgary’s Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, Edmonton’s Zebra Child Protection Centre and Grande Prairie’s Caribou Child and Youth Centre.

“The Counselling for Victims grant is a resource to help ensure victims, children in particular, are not re-traumatized during the legal process,” said Denis.

“(The centres) give children who come through their doors the hope to dream again and the hope to move forward.”

The partnership will help establish a provincial model and allow all children and their families access to specialized counselling services.

“If I know one thing, I know it’s that we’re better together,” said Sheldon Kennedy, a sex abuse survivor who has become an advocate for child victims.

“When we’re dealing with these issues, we have to be working together within all of our community and all of our agencies that deal with these types of crimes against children.”

As the child advocacy centre enters its second year, Kennedy said the trauma faced by the more than 2,500 youths who walked through the doors can’t be compartmentalized.

“The reality is, it’s all the same,” said Kennedy.

The centre has hired a counsellor who will focus on children with acute mental health issues and funds have been earmarked to help offenders who have suffered abuses themselves.

Kennedy pointed to the fact that one in three of the youths assessed by the centre struggle with suicide, self-harm and sexual offending behaviours.

“This is not about throwing everyone in jail,” he said.

“This is about understanding what we’re dealing with and providing the best solution possible.”

Lori Farquharson, a director with the Zebra Foundation said the pilot will offer a critical piece to the healing puzzle.

“The piece that has been missing is really the added support for the families,” she said.

“(Trauma counselling) will help the families and their children on the path of healing.”

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