History

Ah-shawah-bin Sioux Lookout / Lac Seul Victim Support Services was incorporated as a not-for-profit, charitable organization on March 17, 2003. To get to this point was the result of several years of effort by a Steering Committee representing a variety of agencies in the disciplines of Justice, Health, Social Services, and Youth.

In the spring of 2000, the Sioux Lookout Integrated Victim Services Management Team coalesced as a steering committee in response to the high risk/high need identified in the northern and remote communities of northwestern Ontario. This region was also seen as underserviced with current programs and funding systems placing northern and remote communities at a disadvantage.

The main objective identified by the Management Team was to supplement existing services and to focus on filling in the gaps that are directly linked with victims of crime services.

Ah-shawah-bin (which means “to look out for” in Ojibway) became available to provide support to victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week as of July 18, 2003.

October 22, 2003 marked the official opening, combined with a Volunteer Graduation Ceremony. The Lac Seul Drumming group performed as well as two local classical violinists (8 and 12 year old sisters). This meeting of the two cultures is a way of life in the North and is a demonstration of the cooperation and efforts of the many volunteers that came together to make this program possible.

The events held on June 10, 2005 in recognition of the "Annual Day of Commemoration for Victims of Crime" will long remain in our memory as a very special guest was able to participate - Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Dr. Carter was the keynote speaker at an afternoon ceremony, which also showcased the talents of a traditional drumming group and local musicians. He also made an appearance at the high school, and at the movie viewing that evening of "The Hurricane". The man and his message resonated with young and old, and with people from all walks of life.

Relevant Legislation

The needs and rights of victims have been enshrined in recent legislation due to the compelling statistics regarding the human cost of acts of violence and crime.

Victims’ Bill of Rights - An Act Respecting Victims of Crime, 1995 (Bill 23)

Proclaimed as law on June 11, 1996 by the Ontario government, The Victims' Bill of Rights - An Act Respecting Victims of Crime, 1995, supports and recognizes the needs and rights of victims of crime in both the criminal and civil justice system. Elements of the bill include establishing a legislated set of principles to support victims throughout the criminal justice process.

The Statement of Principles requires that victims:

  • be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their personal dignity and privacy;
  • have access to information concerning services and remedies available to victims;
  • have access to information about the progress of criminal investigations and prosecutions and the sentencing and interim release of offenders from custody;
  • be given the opportunity to be interviewed by police officers and officials of the same gender as the victim, when that victim has been sexually assaulted;
  • be entitled to have their property returned as promptly as possible by justice system officials, where the property is no longer needed for the purposes of the justice system (for example, to carry out an investigation, trial or appeal);
  • have access to information about the conditional release of offenders from custody, including release on parole, temporary absence, or escape from custody;
  • have access to information about plea and pre-trial arrangements and their role in the prosecution.

Funding

The Victims’ Justice Fund is enshrined in the Victims’ Bill of Rights, 1995 so that money collected under the victim fine surcharge will be solely dedicated to providing services for victims. Calculated on a graduated scale according to the amount of the fine, the surcharge has been applied to all fines under the Provincial Offences Act (except parking violations) since January 1, 1995. Federal fine surcharge revenues are also collected in the Victims’ Justice Fund.