Changing of the Guard

Pipestone Flyer

RCMP Cst. Scott Sterling supervises the ‘changing of the guard’ as Jeannie Blakely 

welcomes Petra Pfeiffer, right.

    “A huge thank you goes out to our community and to every funder, every volunteer and all our supportive families, and every person who accessed our services.  It has been an honour to serve at the Wetaskiwin RCMP Detachment for the last 16 years. I know our new Executive Director Petra Pfeiffer, will be a huge success in our community. She has many years of experience in this field and I invite you to join me in warmly welcoming Petra.” These are the words spoken by Jeannie Blakely, retiring Executive Director,  Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services.

    Invariably when there is a crime, there is a victim. A little over 16 years ago there was no specific agency for victims of a crime or tragedy to-turn-to. That is when the Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services Society was formed in and in partnership with the Wetaskiwin Municipal RCMP and Rural RCMP a new service was available to residents of  the City of Wetaskiwin, County of Wetaskiwin up to Battle Lake, Town of Millet, and the summer villages on the south side of Pigeon Lake. Jeannie was selected as the Executive Director and from that humble beginning has evolved into one of the most respected Victim Services agencies in the province.

    Replacing Blakely is Petra Pfeiffer, who comes well equipped to fill the large shoes left by Jeannie. Petra previously worked for Battle River Victim Assistance Society Victim Service Units Wainwright, Vermilion, Kitscoty and Provost as the Program Director from 2006 to 2013. She  was also responsible for the Regional Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Crisis Team for that area in that time and has led numerous debriefings and defusings specializing in providing these services to emergency personnel.

    Petra began employment in Wetaskiwin on July 1st and has a very specific goal. “My goal for the future is to continue to provide timely and professional calibre services to victims of crime and tragedy for the Wetaskiwin and District Victim Service Unit including services at the time of the incident, during the investigation, during the court proceedings and afterwards. Wetaskiwin and District Victim Services provides direct support and crisis intervention to victims of crime and tragedy at the time of the incident, information about the criminal justice system including court proceedings, Victim Impact Statements, restitution requests, Victims of Crime Protocol etc. during the investigation, referrals to other pertinent agencies as well as direct court room support to victims of crime upon request.”

Wetaskiwin Victim Services parting comments by Blakely

    “Our program started in July 1997 and since then we have opened 11,000 new client files.  It is the RCMP who ensure these files are referred to our unit.  While the RCMP members are continuing with their investigation, we are able to provide support for victims of crime and tragedy.  We are very fortunate to have such strong support from the Wetaskiwin RCMP; Without it, we would not even be here. 

    Victim Services Board of Directors is unique because of the high level of responsibility they have to the government and the community.  I am so grateful for the leadership and support of our Board; it  has many times been high-lighted as one of the best in this province.  Our volunteer advocates are truly the cream of the crop of volunteers.     We would be hard pressed to find any other volunteer role with the high level of training, huge expectations, the professionalism, or  the depths of caring and compassion that is required of them.   My hat is off to all our past and present advocates for the extraordinary work they do.  We also have three staff members who are dedicated, who understand the intricacies of providing support for the people who have been victimized and the people, our volunteers, who help them. Thank you to each one of you for your expertise and years of services.  

    Our Unit provided training for new advocates for many years. We had approximately 600 registrants from across the province coming to Wetaskiwin.  Since 2011 this huge task has been gratefully taken over the by Alberta Government. 

     A high-light of our Unit was that we were successful in applying for funding to develop a Family Violence Unit, as well as a Family Violence Community Outreach Team.  It is a well-known fact that family violence is prevalent in Wetaskiwin and our goal is to make a difference. 

    Due to a lack of appropriate crime prevention information, we created a library of about 50 brochures to provide support for victims.  You will find our brochures on our website, www.victimserviceswetaskiwin.ca along with a lot of other information about Victim Services. We encourage everyone to visit our website.”

Victim Services Program

    If you find you require assistance, Victim Services Program has volunteers on call to the police 24/7 to provide support to victims of crime and tragedy. The types of incidents they work directly with the RCMP include:

•    Assaults

•    Family Violence

•    Robbery

•    Suicide

•    Property Crime

•    Sudden Death (NOK’s)

•    Court prep. and accompaniment

•    Motor Vehicle Collisions

•    Practical and emotional support in the immediate aftermath of a crime or tragedy

•    Information on the police investigation, crime prevention and the justice system

•    Victim Impact Statements, Financial Benefits forms, Restitution application, etc.

•    Referrals: for community support, medical assistance, emergency food, clothing and shelter

•    Court preparation and accompaniment

    

    Other practical services are also available. Some examples might include assistance to call family or friends, emergency transportation, shelter, food, information on what is happening and what will happen next, medical assistance, safety planning, referral to other sources of immediate assistance, temporary child care, home security check. 

    Retiring Executive Director, Jeannie Blakely is grateful to, “the years of support of the RCMP and the loyal number of volunteers that stepped forward every year to assist with providing a wide variety of services to victims in need.” 

    For more information, or to volunteer for Victim Services, phone (780) 312-7287 or visit them in the RCMP building Wetaskiwin.