MONTREAL — Victims of violent crime told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal on Monday that they need more support from the federal government.
Trudeau, who did not take questions from journalists, met with several violent crime victims as part of a roundtable discussion organized by Sun Youth, a Montreal-based community organization.
Following the meeting with the prime minister, Alexandra Simon says she told Trudeau about how she struggled to find help leaving a violent pimp.
"It's really hard to get services, so I felt really alone," she said in an interview. "When I called shelters, they said they couldn't help me because it wasn't domestic violence … but it’s the same thing — it’s violence."
She said there needs to be more support for people trying to leave the sex trade, adding that she was pleased the prime minister took the time to speak with her and other people in the community.
One man who met with Trudeau said men who are victims of crime need more services. After a violent home invasion that left him in the hospital, the man, who asked not to be named because the people who attacked him have not been arrested and he fears retaliation, said he has not been able to return home.
He said that while he was left with no money and nowhere to stay, he wasn't offered a safe place to live and has been unable to meet with a psychologist or another mental health professional since his attack.
Betty Emmanuel, who left a violent partner, said she would like support for children who grow up in violent homes.
"You cannot expect (Trudeau) to do everything at once, and he was very honest about that," she said in an interview. "But he was here, that's No. 1 — that he was present, that he heard, that he listened and that we spoke."
Eric Kingsley, the director of emergency services at Sun Youth, the Montreal community organization that set up the event, said it's important that Trudeau heard the stories first-hand. "He'll remember that he spoke to these people, the pain that they had, and the struggles that they're having still due to these violent situations."
Before the meeting, Trudeau gave a short statement to reporters. He said solving the problem of violence cannot be done by the federal government alone but will require co-operation with community groups, municipalities and provinces.
“I know the situations that you’ve been through as individuals have been extremely difficult, and I want to salute your courage and your strength in coming forward to share your stories, so I can better understand what we’re facing as a country and make sure that I’m doing the things necessary to counter it,” Trudeau told the participants.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2022.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press