Victim Advisory Council to
Correction Services Canada & The Parole Board of Canada
Lori Davis, who sits on the MOVA Board of Directors, and Karen Wiebe, Executive Director of MOVA
Both sit on the the Prairie Region Victim Advisory Council (VAC)
to Correction Services Canada & The Parole Board of Canada.
If you have any questions regarding your victim rights regarding federally incarcerated offenders,
please contact Karen Wiebe at 204-229-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The document below was a CSC publication for employees of CSC.
The Victim Advisory Council advise Correction Services Canada (CSC) and the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) on victim needs. The first committee was formed in British Columbia in 1996, and today there is a VAC in the Atlantic, Ontario/Nunavut, Prairie, and Pacific regions. The VAC–CSC–PBC relationship is stronger than ever, bringing each perspective to the table for ongoing discussions about what more can be done to support victims of crime. The establishment of the Victim Services Program at CSC in 2007, various pieces of legislation including Bill S-6 and Bill C-10, as well as the recent passing of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, a true watershed moment for victims of crime in this country, are just some of the major achievements that have taken place over the course of the past eight years.
The trauma that comes as a result of violent crime never goes away. Whether it happens to you or a loved one, it remains with you throughout your entire life. The fear. The pain. The gut-wrenching anguish. It becomes a piece of who you are and, sometimes, it can swallow you whole.
Sadly, Carolyn Solomon, Laura Glover, and Floyd Wiebe have experienced this first-hand. Each has survived a living nightmare, struggling to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. But today, they have dedicated themselves to helping others, advocating for victims’ rights as chairs of Victim Advisory Committees (VAC) across the country. “I will always fight for victims,” says Carolyn, Ontario/Nunavut Region VAC chair. “It’s just in me now. I have a voice and I need to speak up. I have to let people know what needs to be corrected. I like to think that all of us who spoke out over the years are part of the change we have seen happen recently. We still have lots of work to do, but we’ve also come a long way.”
For the three chairs, it has been a long and painful journey to get here.
Carolyn’s son was murdered by a federal parolee in 1997. She found out during a phone call with her son’s ex-girlfriend the day after it happened: “Did you know that Kevin is dead?” She didn’t.
Laura Glover was eight years old in 1978 when a serial rapist attacked her just blocks from her home. He made her tell him her address and threatened her family. He wasn’t caught until seven years later.
Floyd Wiebe’s son TJ was murdered 12 years ago by four people in Manitoba because one of them didn’t approve of TJ’s relationship with one of their girlfriends. Weeks went by before his body was found in a frozen field along a highway.
The days, weeks, and months following their tragedies had them at their most vulnerable. But, they say, the victimization didn’t end. For Carolyn and Floyd, the way various organizations and individuals treated them was cruel.
“I actually had someone say to me, ‘What do you mean you’re a victim? No you’re not,’” says Carolyn. “I had just lost my son and this person was telling me I wasn’t a victim. I also didn’t know I could register as a victim until a year after his death.”
Floyd, chair of the Prairie Region’s VAC, had a similar experience.
“When my son was murdered and I tried to get information, I was told I couldn’t have it and I was lied to. I experienced things that made me realize I needed to be involved in victim advocacy, so I became extremely vocal in the media. I did this to gather the information I needed and wanted, and to bring awareness to how we were being treated. Today, I’m certainly not proud of this, but I’m probably the most well- recognized homicide victim in Manitoba.”
Laura has spent most of her life as a victim. Her offender was caught when she was 15 years old, at which point she found herself attending his trial and subsequent parole hearings. The years that she has spent participating in the criminal justice system have shaped the way she approaches the work she does as chair of the Pacific Region’s VAC. “Our system is set up as state against offender. The reality is that the victim isn’t even written into the process, and that is what we are trying to change. We’re trying to fit a rightfully square peg into a very round hole. We’re not saying that the peg shouldn’t be square, but the system was never designed to hold it in a good and safe way. So, we’re reinventing the whole system. It’s not always an easy process, but it’s an amazing challenge. It’s very rewarding to be involved with something that is making such an incredibly needed and fundamental change.”
While all three of them agree that victims’ rights have evolved a tremendous amount since they first became victims, there are still areas they say need to be addressed. For Laura, it’s the gap that exists between treatment offered to offenders versus victims.
“Part of the problem is that the system is designed to respond to the needs and rehabilitation of the offender, but there is no one that is responsible for the rehabilitation of the victim,” says Laura. “The therapy that I have received over the years has been at my own expense, and it will continue until the day I die. It’s not something you deal with once and then it’s gone. For example, when I became a mother I had to get support for that process, and that came out of my own pocket. The question I always have is how, as a community, can we care for those people who have experienced that trauma? Obviously we need to support the offenders, but what about the victims? All we want to see is some matched services. It’s not a matter of us or them. It’s a matter of us and them.”
Floyd also sees room for improvement.
“I work with a lot of Aboriginal people on remote reserves. I hold conferences where victims of homicide come talk to me about their experiences and ask questions. Some don’t even know they can attend parole hearings. They have nobody to help them, but I will. I fly up there, I meet with them, and I help them through the process. We have sharing circles and tell our stories. We heal together and I become their contact afterwards. I don’t just leave them after I host an event. They all have my cell number and always have access to me. I basically support the people who would otherwise fall through the cracks. I fight for the rights of others. That’s who and what I’m thinking about when we meet with CSC and PBC.”
Every June for about ten years following the death of her son, Carolyn hosted a BBQ at her home to celebrate his birthday. She invited his friends and family to come and mark the occasion. This, she says, was a way to grieve him since she had put it on hold for so long to deal with the challenges she initially faced as a victim. The gatherings have since tapered off as her son’s friends have moved away and are raising their own families. Some still come by to visit, which is nice she says. That way she knows they haven’t forgotten about her Kevin.
As for Floyd, he and his wife Karen have set up a foundation in TJ’s name to help kids “Choose To Be Drug Free.” TJs Gift Foundation raises money to fund drug-awareness programs delivered in schools. By sharing their son’s story, they have changed the lives of many students and families across Western Canada.
And Laura is a busy mom raising young children. Doing an interview about her life while making soup is just par for the course at this point. It’s busy, but it’s exactly what she wants to be doing.
All three, along with their fellow VAC members, have survived the worst. Together they are committed to standing up for victims’ rights. None of them, they say, could imagine doing anything else.
Past Vac Chairs from across Canada