It takes incredible courage for the families of people killed by violent crime to find their way through the justice system, hear their tragic stories told publicly and repeatedly, and still persevere through incredible grief and trauma. We thank all those who have allowed Candace House to be part of their journeys.
This week, Candace House is honoured to recognize the bravery and strength of all such families who’ve had to walk through – or are currently engaged with the system, and the many challenges you face every day. We learn so much from you.
We recognize the system is imperfect. There are still many issues facing victims and survivors of violent crime in the services, supports, programs, and laws currently in place to help them and their families. We know we need to use a victim-focused lens if we want a better-functioning criminal justice system.
Candace House opened in 2018 to provide a day refuge for families who’ve lost a loved one to violence and are going through the justice process. Since then, more than 500 people have found a healing haven in this private, comfortable, home-like space where they can take breaks from the pain and stress of court proceedings just a few blocks from the law courts. We wish the number of families needing Candace House wasn’t so high, but we are so glad you feel comfortable here.
“At Candace House, we could escape the trial and the courthouse for a while. The feeling was so warm and peaceful.”
Sadly, demand for a healing haven for victimized families continues to grow as the record-breaking number of fatalities from the past few years begin to make their way to trial and the courts attempt to deal with the backlog from COVID. In fact, we are having to turn families away or put limits on their time, to make space for others.
Families are also needing more kinds of support services, including accommodations for viewing live streamed courtroom proceedings, private space to meet with victim services, public safety professionals, and counsellors, and more quiet spaces where people can rest and regroup in privacy.
Candace House is dedicated to forwarding reconciliation. This means building strong, meaningful relationships with Indigenous-led community groups so we can continue to be guided by them in providing support for Indigenous people in the best way possible. Groups like Ka Ni Kanichihk and Family Indigenous Liaison Unit staff already count on Candace House to offer a peaceful and respectful environment where they can sit with suffering families and provide critical cultural support. We are listening to them about their needs for more appropriate spaces for supporting Indigenous families.
We’ve also seen how the network of victim support partners in our community could create and coordinate services more effectively if there were more opportunities for group sessions, workshops, and information sharing.
As the community’s needs for victim support change, Candace House remains dedicated to evolving and growing our capacity to serve.
In the first three years at Candace House...