The BC Victims of Homicide (BCVOH) is an initiative of the British Columbia Bereavement Helpline that aims to provide support and strength to the families and friends of individuals who have survived the loss of a loved one by homicide. BCVOH networks with various government and non-government organizations to offer support to relatives and friends of homicide victims in the form of safe, guided support groups. The BCVOH offers information and resources for caregivers helping victims of homicide.
The BC Bereavement Helpline (BCBH), the umbrella organization, is a leader in providing education, support and advocacy for the bereaved, their caregivers and professionals. The Helpline has assisted over 40,000 callers since its inception in 1986 and is a lifeline for callers in BC to receive immediate telephone information and referral support by connecting callers to over 300 not-for-profit groups in 82 communities.
Helpline hours are 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Monday – Friday).
The need for developing a homicide bereavement support program in Vancouver has been addressed by several groups including various communities and police-based victim service programs. Unfortunately, there were no existing homicide bereavement support groups available in Vancouver prior to the establishment of the BCVOH in 2011. The only other support groups available were: Surrey – Valley View Funeral Home Homicide Support Group; and Abbotsford – Valley View Funeral Home Homicide Support Group. These groups were initiated in 2009 & 2010 respectively.
In August of 2009, the BCBH spearheaded a project in which Christopher Ducharme conducted a research study. It’s mission was to find support services for victims of homicide in order for the Helpline to appropriately refer callers in B.C. The Helpline staff contacted the executive directors, managers and supervisors of the 36 most relevant organizations from the Vancouver area. These were thought to be the ones a bereaved person could reasonably expect to have knowledge of homicide bereavement support programs. Unfortunately, none of these 36 groups could direct callers to a homicide-specific bereavement peer support group. In fact, several organizations including the Vancouver Police Department Victim Services and the Crisis Line of BC actually referred the BCBH staff to the BCBH organization for further information about homicide bereavement.
Over the past several years, British Columbia has received much attention in the media regarding missing women in the province. In September of 2017, BCBH and BCVOH facilitated the Sisters in Strength Wellness Retreat, held at the Sts‘ailes Lhawathet Lalem Retreat Centre in Agassiz, B.C for Indigenous women closely related to one of the missing and murdered women and girls. Located in a beautiful and peaceful location on the banks of the Chehalis River, the Sts’ailes Lhawathet Lalem Retreat Centre provided the perfect environment in which women could come together in their grief and strength. A drumming ceremony opened the weekend, sharing circles supported the women in expression their pain and grief, arts and crafts, drumming by an outside fire pit and healing wellness providers on site provided a rich and healing environment for our Sisters in Strength. BCBH/BCVOH is honoured to have had these women at our special event! We extend a heartfelt thanks to our partners, Elders and advisors for helping us with this successful retreat.
BCBH acknowledges the receipt of civil forfeiture funding from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Community Safety and Crime Prevention Branch.
“To provide knowledge and tools to victims of crime in order to support their grief and help them navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system. To provide guidance on how to deal with frequent inquiries from the media and the public. To validate the needs and feelings of victims by offering concern, compassion and acknowledgement in the safety of our groups, which we believe to be a crucial step towards their recovery. By encouraging participation, we hope the intensity of their grief is alleviated. Along with this, we invite all victims to participate in programs to raise public awareness about this significant issue.”