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Organizations come together against violence

Amanda Vaughan
Northern News Services
Published Friday, October 12, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Last week the RCMP hosted a three-day family violence workshop open to all the organizations involved in addressing family violence.

The event just happened to fall right before the territory's Family Violence Awareness Week.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Arlene Hache: "This is new and exciting to see the RCMP taking a role in bringing in the expertise."

"Of course we planned it that way," laughed Sgt. Larry O'Brien, before explaining that the workshop was actually planned to coincide with an annual investigators' course, which the RCMP holds for its own members.

"We bring mostly junior members in from across the territory, and provide them with training on investigative techniques, and we planned the workshop to be right in the middle of the course," O'Brien said.

He said this is the first time RCMP in the territory have hosted something open to all organizations like this, and he said in light of the success, they'd like to do it every year. He helped organize the event with the assistance of Sgt. Ken Morrison and Rebecca Latour from the Department of Justice.

Some of the highlights of the workshop, according to O'Brien, were the speakers, such as a victim of domestic abuse whose former partner ended up killing himself and their son; a doctor who spoke on the effects of family violence on children, and a presentation on prosecuting criminal harassment (stalking) in Canada, by a Calgary RCMP detective.

Arlene Hache, executive director of the Centre for Northern Families, was happy with the workshop, which, in addition to the RCMP, had participants from several non-profit organizations who deal with family violence such as the Centre, and the Status of Women Council, Allison McAteer House and the Native Women's Association.

Hache said she had not seen an inter-agency training session like it in the territory before.

"This is new and exciting to see the RCMP taking a role in bringing in the expertise," she said, noting that the non-profit organizations do not have the resources to bring in the level of trainers that were at the conference.

Hache described the way all of their agencies mesh as "like puzzle pieces."

"It's only when you put us all together like this that you see which pieces you are missing," she said.

Sami Dechief, from the Status of Women Council, said it was "imperative to have everyone in the same room to share opinions and perspective."

She also noted enjoying the fact that the tone of the workshop was not one of blame between agencies.

"It was definitely about how we can work together to make things better," Dechief said.

O'Brien said the RCMP's decision to host the workshop was a product of experience.

"We have learned that we only handle one component of the system, and where we end and others take over, sometimes gaps are created," he said, making mention of how shelters, non-profit organizations, the RCMP and the justice system all connect to help victims of violence in the home.

In addition to shelter workers and police, Crown prosecutors, correctional workers and people from other agencies and groups whose work is touched by the effects of family violence attended the conference.