Providing adequate support to victims of crime is a Canada-wide challenge. Parliament passed the Canadian Victim Bill of Rights in 2015, but making sure that victims are properly supported requires specialized approaches all throughout the country.
Since the 1990s, the Northwest Territories' Victim Services Program has tried to respond to the needs of victims of crime in its unique northern environment. The context in which victim services are delivered in the Northwest Territories is considerably different from most other regions of Canada. Many communities continue to live a traditional way of life with seasonal hunting, trapping and fishing being an integral part of community living. The geography and remoteness of the communities presents unique challenges in providing services and supports to victims of crime. Since its founding in the late 1990s, the Northwest Territories Victim Services Program has grown to the point where there are now 11 Victim Service Providers in eight communities, providing services to all 33 communities across the territory.
In 2016-17, the federal Department of Justice committed $3.75 million over five years to the Government of the Northwest Territories to support victim access to services. The contribution supports the Victim Services Program, activities that support implementation of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, management of Victims of Crime Emergency funding, Victim Services staff, and training and publications. Despite the new investment, challenges of coordinating services over the Northwest Territories' vast geography – such as ensuring that people in rural and remote settings have access to services – remain.
Qatalyst recently evaluated the Northwest Territories' Victim Services Program. In particular, we looked at how well the program responded to needs, how well it achieved outcomes, and how effective it was in terms of design and delivery. We also investigated opportunities for future improvement to the program. Read the executive summary of our report and find out what we learned about delivering victim services in a northern context by clicking the link below: