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The Canadian Department of Justice Policy Centre for Victims of Crime (PCVI) is a unit dedicated to provide the “victims lens” for all criminal law reform and criminal justice policy development for which the Department is responsible. The PCVI leads the Federal Victims Strategy (FVS). The objective of the FVS is to give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. Within the FVS, the Victims Fund provides grants and contributions to support projects and activities that encourage the development of new approaches to victim service delivery, promote access to justice, improve the capacity of service providers, foster the establishment of referral networks, and/or increase awareness of services available to victims of crime and their families, including victims of terrorism.
Project funding was provided to the ACTV Foundation (now the Canadian National Day of Service Foundation – CNDSF) to organize and host an event to commemorate and celebrate the lives of Canadian victims of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack in New York City. The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime (CRCVC) has received funding from the Victims Fund to undertake research and to develop resources for victims of crime including the development of a guide on dealing with media. In addition, the Victims Fund has provided exceptional funding for individual victims and their families to travel to legal proceedings or memorial events.
Through another funding program, the Department of Justice can also fund projects to support victims of terrorism. For example, the ACTV Foundation received funding from the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program to organize a concert to commemorate The National Day of Service to honour those who have lost their lives to terrorism. The event honoured the Canadian victims of 9/11, Canadians who have perished in terrorist attacks, the Armed Forces personnel, and journalists and diplomats who have lost their lives to terrorism. The effort also provided a means of showing support for those left behind: the survivors and family members.
In March 2012, Canada passed the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (“the Act”). The Act allows victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators of terrorism and those that support them, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world.
The Act allows:
• victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators of terrorism and those that support them in a Canadian court, including foreign states listed by the Government. Victims can seek redress for terrorist acts committed anywhere in the world from January 1, 1985 onwards;
• victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators of terrorism and those that support them if the victims are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or if they can demonstrate a real and substantial connection between their claim and Canada; and
• for the suspension of statutory limitation periods. In other words, victims are not penalized if they were incapable of commencing an action within the normal limitation period because of physical, mental or psychological conditions, or when the victims were unable to ascertain the identity of the perpetrator of the act or those that supported them.
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Canada, within its federal structure, has collaborated with provinces on the support of victims of terrorism. Canada continues to advocate for the inclusion of language recognizing and expressing support for victims of terrorism in all UN resolutions. A number of Canadian non-governmental organizations have been working with victims of terrorism. Three notable organizations include the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime (CRCVC), the Canadian Coalition Against Terror (C-CAT) and the Canadian National Day of Service Foundation (CNDSF).
a. The CRCVC is a non-profit victim advocacy group that lobbies for victims' interests and effective justice reform. The Centre has conducted research and consultations regarding the needs of victims of terrorism. CRCVC has a number of resources, some of which were funded by the Victims Fund, which are relevant to victims of terrorism and to service providers.
b. C-CAT is a non-partisan advocacy body comprised of Canadian terror victims, counterterrorism professionals and other individuals committed to enhancing Canada's counterterrorism policies. It has been active since 2004 and has been involved in the national dialogue on terrorism and national security (the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security).
c. CNDSF raises awareness and strives to provide education to the public about the effects of terrorism and to provide support for those who have been impacted by terrorist violence, either directly or by virtue of its impact on an immediate family member.