CAVEAT - Canadians Against Violence - 1991-2001

Monday, June 23 2003

Canadians Against Violence - 1991-2001

In August 1991 a small group of unlikely activists started a petition addressed to the Federal Government as an expression of local horror, fear, and a deep and abiding anger at a system that had failed us so horribly. We intended the circulation to last for six weeks. It became the largest petition in Canadian history with 3 million signatures. None of us dreamt that we would be in existence and active ten years later. We could not have foreseen that a grassroots movement, focused on distributing the petition, would develop into an organization that would play an important role in profoundly changing the criminal justice system in Canada.

 Our surprising growth and development has been due to the generous support of thousands of individuals and businesses locally and across Canada, which gave us the energy to continue when everything else told us to stop.  Many of our original supporters still sustain us, whether in small cash donations or ongoing pledges; service clubs and businesses, private citizens and young children all have added their support. Our Board, staff and volunteer corps have been faithful and unstinting in donating time, expertise, financial resources and contacts while their families have invariably found themselves involved as well.

 The growth of CAVEAT has been quite remarkable. We have consistently broken new ground, and have brought an intelligent, integrated holistic approach to the problems of crime prevention and public safety. CAVEAT has been a part of the remarkable progress achieved for victims of crime and society including the legislative and policy recognition that victims do have a role in Canada?s criminal justice system as well as in public safety.

 The establishment of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) in Ontario as well as Justice Canada?s Policy Centre for Victim Issues were both landmark institutional developments in which CAVEAT played a significant role. The role of the victim in the criminal justice system is now accepted as an integral part of the system itself and the inclusion of victims in policy making signals that our work has not been in vain.

 As progress has occurred, we have been faced with increasingly complex work, requiring sophisticated resources. Over the years we have explored every avenue in search of funding for our operations and projects. Time and again, our core supporters came to our rescue as we struggled to balance our need to move forward with our need to pay the bills.

 A decade has gone by and we now find ourselves in a new environment. With the assistance of and funding from The Policy Centre for Victims Issues, Justice Canada, this past year we have exhaustively examined the changing role of CAVEAT both internally and through an independent feasibility study. It is clear that major changes would have to be made if CAVEAT is to continue to be an effective voice for victims and public safety within the new criminal justice landscape. Our Board has determined that we do not have the necessary resources, nor the organizational capacity at this time, nor in the foreseeable future, to undertake these fundamental changes. Accordingly, CAVEAT will cease operations May 31, 2001.

  Although our office will be closed we will continue to administer a few projects until  completion. Our final publication, VISION: Action Today for a Safer Tomorrow is the culmination of the development of youth safety strategies which we began in 1993, while the ?Tools of Awareness? training manual, is being developed to accompany the award winning video ?A Love That Kills?.  It is our hope that they will enhance the quality of life for Canadians in years to come.

  As we close our office, let us be clear that there is still a need in our communities for the work of organizations like CAVEAT. I encourage you to lend whatever support you can to local undertakings in your area, particularly programs designed to prevent youth crime and victimization.

  Stay involved, stay active; shape your community and your Canada. One person does make a difference.

  Finally, on a personal note, I want to thank the many people locally, who over the years helped me shape something constructive out of my worst nightmare. I am humbled and honoured beyond words and I shall remember your warmth and generosity of spirit all the days of my life. Thank you all.

  Respectfully yours

 Priscilla de Villiers

President of CAVEAT

For a full list of a decade of accomplishments, see our May 2001, CAVEAT Report as well as the full text of the Vision Recommendations, see our web site at www.caveat.org

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