Violence against our community has been receiving a lot of media attention lately but it has yet to receive any government funding. We have a proposal before the Solicitor General for a Community Safety program.
UPDATE – We have a meeting scheduled with the previous Solicitor General, Mike deJong, in early October. He expressed support for our proposal and promised to respond in November. However before that could happen the Premier shuffled the Cabinet. The new Solicitor General, Rich Coleman, could not meet with us so he referred us to the head of the Victim Services Division of the Solicitor General’s office. We met with Ms. Dahlin but she refused to fund the Community Safety program. Ms. Dahlin told us that victims of homophobic violence should access the existing victim services which can be found within other communities. Specifically she stated that lesbians could access services within the violence against women support services and gay men who had been bashed could go to the services available through Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse. We argue that victims of homophbic violence require particular support and resources due to the specific nature of the crimes committed against them. Homophobic violence directly impacts individuals but also strikes our community at our core. We are best equipped to support each other through such crises.
We hope that the Solicitor General will hear the concerns of our community and agree to fund the Community Safety Program but governments move slowly and our community needs this service now!
You can help get this program off the ground. Please consider becoming a GUARDIAN of our community by investing in our Community Safety fund (donate here) Donations made to this fund would be the seed money we need to get a Community Safety Worker at QMUNITY. The Community Safety Worker will be there to support and assist victims of homophobic violence when they most need someone in their corner. The time to act is now! Please help.
We need to keep up the pressure on this issue. Please take a minute to encourage the government to fund this Community Safety program. We have drafted a letter (see below) addressed to Minister Rich Coleman, Solicitor General of British Columbia, urging him to fund this program. Our proposal to the Solicitor General will carry so much more weight if we can demonstrate the community’s support for it. Please make a copy of this letter, tinker with it so that it is in your own words (this makes it more effective as form letters are often dismissed) and send it in to the Solicitor General immediately. Your voice carries weight with government. Thank you.
Honourable Rich Coleman
PO Box 9053 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9E2
Dear Minister Coleman
I am writing to you about an urgent matter of community safety. As you know the most recent StatsCanada report on hate crimes demonstrated that hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation have increased in Vancouver. In fact, we hold the dubious distinctions of the highest proportion of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation in Canada (tied with Quebec) in 2008 and the second highest number of sexual orientation motivated hate crimes in the entire country (34 in 2008). In the past year Vancouver has seen many high profile violent assaults on members of our LGTB community. The statistics are startling, the reality of homophobic violence is brutal and the resources are minimal.
Our Vancouver Police Department is doing what they can to bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes however there is little available to support the victims. QMUNITY- BC’s Queer Resource Centre, in conjunction with the VPD, developed a proposal for a Community Safety Program to be situated at QMUNITY in Vancouver’s West End. This program would include a Community Safety Worker (CSW) who would be a primary support and liaison for LGTB victims of violence. The CSW would respond to urgent calls from victims almost immediately after a violent incident, supporting the victim as they make their way through the twists and turns of the medical, legal and justice systems. The CSW would provide information and resources victims need in traumatic and emotionally vulnerable situations. However the CSW would not assume merely a reactive role. The CSW would also work pro-actively with all elements of the LGTB community, as well as liaise with the broader community, to build awareness around LGTB community safety issues, to inform people about risks and to educate about homophobic violence.
QMUNITY is ready to move forward with this Community Safety Program but they can’t do so without government funding. I understand QMUNITY’s Executive Director, Jennifer Breakspear, submitted the program proposal to your office in the spring and met with your predecessors, Kash Heed in the spring and Mike deJong in the fall, to discuss the program. I also understand that the head of your Victim Services Division (Susanne Dahlin) met with Ms. Breakspear and refused to fund the program citing the presence of victim services within other communities that victims of homophobic violence could access. This is not acceptable. Victims of homophobic violence need particular support and resources specific to the nature of the attack. QMUNITY is best equipped to support our community when such crisis arises. Please reconsider your office’s response. I am writing to strongly urge you to find the means to fund this vital community program. We cannot wait for one more person to be attacked. The statistics demonstrate the need. Please help Vancouver’s LGTB community to help ourselves. Please fund the Community Safety Program at QMUNITY.
Thank you for your time and attention.