Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honorable Justin Trudeau visited Sun Youth Organization where he met with a dozen victims of violent crimes as part of a round table discussion on the rise of violence in Montreal. With the recent increase in violent crimes in Montreal we were happy to give a space and an opportunity to victims of violent crimes a chance to share the impacts that this violence has had on their lives and discuss ideas or strategies to better address the problems that lead to violence.
The participants of the round table had already been helped for the most part by our organization. Among these were victims of domestic violence, pimping, armed robbery, forcible confinement, assault, etc. One participant lost his 18-year-old son who was killed by gunshot. Young people came to testify to having received stray bullets in their apartment. Finally, a survivor of the Dawson College shooting, now a mother, came to testify to her growing concern for the future of her children.
In fact, it was in September 2006, following the tragedy at Dawson College, that our assistance program for victims of crime was created. In 2021-2022, 157 victims of crime (90% of whom were women) referred by the Montreal Police Service (SPVM) and the Crime Victims Assistance Centre (CAVAC) were supported, with assistance totaling $21,638. The crimes for which the people were referred to us were 80% domestic violence, 15% pimping and 5% fraud cases.
The victims at the round table spoke about their unique situations. Whether discussing the vulnerability of women without official immigration status living with violent spouses, laws regarding prostitution, the severity of sentences for violent crimes, or the lack of funding for organizations which offer psycho-social support to victims, each participant was able to convey his/her message to the Prime Minister face to face. Mister Trudeau was impressed by the resilience shown by each and everyone of them and promised he would not forget them.
We are grateful for having the opportunity to provide a safe space for dialogue to people that more often than not are reduced to silence. Speaking about the violence and the direct impact it has had on their lives, is often the first step in a healing process. Sharing this impact with governmental decision makers is the best way to bring about real change. We are grateful to the participants in today’s round-table for their trust and for sharing their stories.
“I know the situations that you’ve been through as individuals have been extremely difficult, and I want to salute your courage and your strength in coming forward to share your stories, so I can better understand what we’re facing as a country and make sure that I’m doing the things necessary to counter it,” Trudeau told the participants.