K’atl’odeeche First Nation Victim’s Services received funding earlier this year to hire a victim outreach services worker.
Sharon Pekok was hired in August and is now reaching out to communities like Fort Resolution and Fort Providence in order to span more communities in the territory. With Pekok on board, there is still only one other person who works in a similar capacity as an outreach worker in Inuvik. Program co-ordinator Jaimie Forsey said that much further south in the territory, the position is needed.
“Statistically, the numbers for victims of crime is very high in the South Slave,” said Forsey. “Having Sharon on hand benefits our programs in great ways and on many different levels. She’s a face in the community and she provides a service that hasn’t been available in communities for quite some time.”
Pekok, who also works with individuals in restorative justice, helps those who have been subject to crime. She connects them to services available they may need, such as counselling or ministerial agencies.
But she’s also working on awareness in communities with schools, recreation centres and other community resources to provide workshops and awareness material. She has presented to schools locally about the impacts of crime and victims of crime. She also aids victims by attending court and helping to write impact statements.
“My job is to let them know what is available to them,” said Pekok. “Before, the service was limited in where services could be provided, but now we can visit outside communities. I’m still working on getting people comfortable with the idea that I’m there.”
While she could not disclose an amount, Forsey said that their core budget has increased, with help from the justice department in Yellowknife and Justice Canada, in order to allow more programming like workshops and training.
The program has just recently recruited seven new volunteers and is working on the plan, theme and workshop material for 2013 National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.
by Angele Cano