Considerably more women were helped by the Smithers RCMP Victims Services from April through to June according to the release of quarterly statistics.
There were 21 female victims helped by the service out of a total of 27.
The numbers aren’t dramatically different compared to the previous quarter of 22 females out of a total 24 victims, according to the Northern Society for Domestic Peace who helps collect the stats.
The service helps people from across the regional district with anything from domestic abuse, car accidents and death in the family.
“We’re providing service for a fairly huge area and it’s important that it’s seen and valued and it’s part of what we as a community and a regional district provide for our members,” says Executive Director of the society Carol Seychuk.
She says 50 per cent of their funding is covered by the province, with the rest covered on a voluntary basis by municipalities.
“As it is right now, we have to go every year and ask for funding, and currently we’re not getting that 50 per cent,” says Seychuk. “we’re hoping that the regional district, who use to put into victims services and doesn’t right now, will commit to that. And of course Telkwa contributes as well. So if municipalities come together and decide whatever funding formula works for them…”
Smithers recently pushed a resolution up to the Union of BC Municipalities in hopes to make victims services a mandatory funding requirement.
“The whole idea, and what the Town of Smithers is working on with the regional district, is that the municipal governments put in their 50 per cent and it’s not questioned.”
Smithers Councillor Phil Brienesse agrees the service should be treated like other essential services.
”For example, our RCMP fee that we pay, we don’t get to deliberate on what that is. When they give us a bill we pay it. And that’s the way it should be when something’s an essential service.”
In Burns Lake there are plans for a forum to create an action plan for violence against women.
“I really don’t want to waste time just talking about it. I want action out of this forum and commitment out of different levels of government,” says Director of the Carrier Sekani Family services Mary Teegee. “How can we all work together to provide services within that municipality, within that area, to ensure that the young women and girls that are being violated have access to the services and receive the services they require.”
That means chiefs, the mayor of Burns Lake, provincial and federal officials will all work together on this.
Teegee hopes they can commit to some improvement of services for women fleeing abuse, as well as preventing violence from happening in the first place. She says a lot of research on their behalf will be going into the forums.
“It will be one of the first of it’s kind where there is an action plan to deal with sexual violence in BC, so I’m really excited to see what comes out of this.”
The provincial government spent 30 thousand dollars last year for the forums, with this one bring held in Burns Lake October 12th and 13th.