VFCYJC regular meetings 2024

Thursdays, January 25 (AGM), February 22, April 25, May 23, June 27, Sept. 26, Oct. 24 and Nov. 28, all from 11:30 to 1:30 PM ~ Capital Regional District Board Room, 625 Fisgard St. with virtual attendance option. Resource agencies are welcome to provide short updates in each meeting’s opening minutes; longer formal presentations can be booked into our future schedule.  Please contact vfamcourt@gmail.com for details.

June 27

The Minister of Children and Family Development, the Hon. Grace Lore, graciously shared an hour of her time with the committee for a Q&A and presentation titled Youth Justice Services: Strengthening Abilities and Journeys of Empowerment. Youth aging out of care face severely heightened life challenges, and the SAJE program provides navigators and income, housing and mental health support for 10,000 eligible  BC teenagers and young adults.  Following Minister Lore’s talk, the committee tackled two motions: MYST advocacy continues with a request to the CRD Board of Directors to write Minister Farnworth given that just six months of renewed funding (until Oct. 1) has been provided to counsellor Mia Golden when long-term line-item commitment and additional staffing is required; and members Krista Loughton and Marcie McLean tabled, with unanimous committee approval, a motion that the Province and other BC enforcement authorities seek revisions to sections 152 and 153 of the Criminal Code to more effectively stop online sexual exploitation and grooming of children and youth. The motion concludes that “when children and youth are victims of sexual offences the sentencing is typically the minimum recommended. There should be an increase to the minimum or a recommendation that sentencing should lean to the maximum.”

May 23

Thanks were extended to all who attended our lively 2024 Open House, among them reps from 20 Greater Victoria agencies and 15 of our own members. General agreement that the VFCYJC is well positioned to continue hosting these mix-and-mingle gatherings, perhaps next time in a more formal context where each attendee can provide activity updates to the group at large. Discussion at our monthly meeting focused on what role, if any, the VFCYJC might play in further conversations re: the School Police Liaison Officer program (see our recently updated backgrounder). We concluded it might prove helpful to host a solutions-oriented panel discussion on the subject at our June meeting with invites going to SD #61, Victoria PD, the Minister of Children & Family Development and MYST. The latter’s Mia Golden and Gord Magee updated us on deeply disturbing predatory activities targeting vulnerable local youth, in particular pedophiles operating online through social media. A VFCYJC-funded business case study rationalizing MYST team expansion and, critically, long-term, stable funding will be presented to the BC Association of Chiefs of Police this summer.

Chair Little shared sad news of the sudden passing of Vice-Chair Adam Flint: “Adam was a fierce advocate for children and youth, and was active on the committee since 2018 as our Town of View Royal appointee. He was kind, funny, thoughtful and hard-working, and his positive attitude will be missed. He was also an executive member of the Movember Campaign. Adam leaves behind two children and his wife Kyla. I would like to extend our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.” A celebration of Adam’s life will be held at McCall Gardens, 4665 Falaise Drive, on June 29, 2024, at 2:00 pm.

April 25

Chair Little warmly welcomed three new CRD appointees: Cheryl Chaytors, Director of Intervention Programs, BGC South Vancouver Island; Andrew Holeton, Director of Community Engagement & Impact, Alliance To End Homelessness in the Capital Region; and Samantha Rapaport, Family Lawyer and Partner in the Victoria firm Brown Henderson Melbye. Roundtable discussion covered multiple topics raised by committee members, including the latest developments in the School Police Liaison Officer program (see SD #61 FAQ and comments from Victoria PD Chief Del Manak; our School Liaison Officer Background Paper – Summer/Fall 2023 will be revised to capture these updates and related recent motions from Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria). The committee learned about a new Lantzville treatment facility for Indigenous youth that will offer culturally relevant detox and treatment services. This month’s guest speaker from Foundry BC was unable to join us and will be invited back to a future meeting. Planning is underway for the VFCYJC’s second Open House, set for Wed. May 22 from 3 to 6 PM at Victoria City Hall.

Citizen Appointees Wanted! April 1 Deadline

The CRD has issued a call for expert volunteers to join us in our work. Full details here.

Feb. 22 meeting

Caleigh Owen, a staff family lawyer at University of Victoria’s The Law Centre, and recent graduate Megan Klymchuk discussed their experiences within the family justice system. They spoke of issues with the 2019 Early Resolution & Case Management model, in particular the challenge of  identifying the degree coercion or manipulation is involved in intimate partner violence; additional training for police and judges is recommended. (See the  Jan. 2022 evaluation of this prototype program by a panel of BC family law authorities.) Flaws were identified in Provincial Court of BC procedures, including the lack of fillable PDF forms, plain-language guidelines and user-friendly sample forms and files. The pair also noted that the “best interests of the child” benchmark in the BC Family Law Act can be problematic due to high costs of private psychological testing. “In the system, youth don’t really have a say,” said Owen. “It’s about third parties making decisions on what is best for them and there is no one system the judiciary use for making that determination.”  Also on the agenda, Chair Little presented the 2024 VFCYJC Orientation; Youth & Family Matters Chair Rose Stanton shared the newly released BC Adolescent Health Survey  based on surveys of 38,500 students aged 12-19 in BC’s 60 school districts; and members were encouraged to listen to a recent Victoria PD True Blue Podcast on the MYST program and read a related memo prepared for the VFCYJC by Const. Gord Magee.

Jan. 25 – AGM 2024

Members welcomed back Marie-Terese Little (Metchosin), Adam Flint (View Royal) and Esther Patterson (Oak Bay) in re-elections as Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer respectively for 2024.  Returnee Sub-Committee chairs are Marcie McLean (Priorities/Grants), Bill McElroy (Capital Region Action Team) and Jeff Bateman (Communications) with Highlands Councillor Rose Stanton stepping up to lead Youth and Family Matters. The VFCYJC 2023 Annual Report was received and approved. Guest speaker Seth Recalma from the Moose Hide Campaign spoke of how this Indigenous-led grassroots initiative to engage men and boys in ending violence towards women and children has evolved into a nationwide movement. Five million moose hide pins have been distributed, and many Canadians wear them year-round or on weekly “Wear & Share Wednesdays.” Momentum is building for the annual Moose Hide Campaign Day on May 16 with virtual “Community Champion” training sessions available to local organizers.

At our regular meeting, Chair Little set the stage for another year of education and advocacy.  The Committee voted unanimously to offer $5k to the Mobile Youth Services Team (MYST) to help fund a business case cost/benefit analysis that would justify stable, long-term support and increased funding from the Province. All agreed that an encore open house for front-line service providers should go ahead later this year.

Our Year In Review – 2023

Click this link for a summary of news briefs, including renewed advocacy on behalf of MYST; presentations by SD 61 Chair Nicole Duncan, UBC researcher Bill Warburton, the Hon. Mitzi Dean and The Village Initiative‘s Cindy Andrew;  discussion of Greater Victoria’s School Police Officer Liaison Program; our meet-and-greet Open House at Victoria City Hall; and much more as we navigated our welcome first year as a delegated commission of the Capital Regional District (following 56 years under the same VFCYJC banner). Warm thanks to CRD staff for their vital contributions to this evolving transition.

Social Media Links

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(Relatively) New to the website …

VFCYJC 2023 Annual Report (published Jan. 2024)

– Powerpoint presentations by Bill Warburton  and The Village Initiative’s Cindy Andrew on the vital need for upstream intervention

School Liaison Officer Background Paper – Summer/Fall 2023

MYST funding update – April 2023 Good one-year news re: Greater Victoria’s Mobile Youth Services Team + our 2022 advocacy + the Crime Reduction and Exploitation Diversion (CRED) program + support from the CRD Board and municipal councils + November 2023 advocacy letter+ Insights from MYST’s Cst. Gord Magee

Strategic Plan 2023-2026 (approved April 27, 2023)

– We’re now a delegated commission of the Capital Regional District

– A list of our 2023 membership appointees

For more information about the Victoria Family Court and Youth Justice Committee please contact:

Chair:  Marie-Terese Little, email mtlittle@metchosin.ca

Secretary:  Marnie Essery, email vfamcourt@gmail.com

Tel 250-474-5939

VFCYJC Grants Available! 

Call for Submissions + Application Form (word or .RTF) [please note that we now accept applications in any amount year-round for consideration at our regular meetings. Applications received after the third week of June must wait for consideration until we meet again in September.]  

The Victoria Family Court & Youth Justice Committee provides modest funding for community projects educating and assisting youth and families who are at risk or may come into contact with the criminal or family legal systems. Projects should focus on prevention, education and/or diversion.

Email submissions and/or send questions to the VFCYJC or the CRD’s Steven Carey.

If an organization, the Executive Director or Chief Executive Officer (or designated signatory) must sign all submissions.

Grants over the years have been awarded to Greater Victoria organizations for events, workshops, scholarships, and special projects and programs. These include:

  • Victoria Youth Empowerment Society
  • Reimagining Masculinities conference
  • Sidney Youth Clinic
  • Cornerstone Youth Society
  • Victoria Sexual Assault Centre
  • Metchosin Foundation
  • Capital Region Action Team
  • Mary’s Farm Society
  • West Shore Policing Advisory Committee
  • Communica Dialogue and Resolution Services
  • Boys and Girls Club of Victoria
  • Healthy Minds Canada
  • Pacific Centre Family Resource Association’s Crime Reduction & Exploitation Diversion program

Notable Links

Young people and families in the Capital region who become entangled with the justice system for any number of potential reasons are often faced with a daunting journey into the unknown.

Established under the BC Provincial Court Act (1966) and expanded under the Federal Youth Criminal Justice Act (1987), the Victoria Family Court & Youth Justice Committee is dedicated to educating the public about the juvenile justice system, reviewing family and youth legislation, advocating to legislative bodies, and monitoring court hearings and custody facilities.

The committee directly connects regional and municipal decision-makers with frontline service providers. Its voting members are a mix of school district trustees, local government elected representatives and appointees of the Capital Regional District, which collects and provides annual funding.

Our subcommittees include Court Watch, Restorative Justice, Youth Mental Health, Family Matters, Youth Matters, Communications, Priorities/Grants and the Capital Region Action Team (CRAT).

As a result of its broad legislated mandate, the VFCYJC engages with many sectors of our community:  children, parents, caregivers, teachers, youth-serving agencies, social workers, lawyers, judges, police, probation officers and restorative justice and victim services workers, among others.

In February, 2022, following a comprehensive two-year review involving committee members and CRD staff, the VFCYJC became a delegated commission of the Capital Regional District with the adoption of CRD Bylaw No. 4553.

Our committee members are asked to:

  • Be aware of the circumstances for youth in the justice, protection, divorce and custody systems.
  • Review and comment on legislation.
  • Facilitate collaboration between community service providers and governance bodies in the interest of better supporting youth and families.
  • Be involved in maintaining the connections between youth and family serving agencies for each community.
  • Advocate for policies and initiatives that improve outcomes for families and youth who may come in contact with the justice system.
  • Increase awareness of the issues facing families and youth involved in the family or youth justice systems.
  • Pursue and promote meaningful reconciliation with the Indigenous community.
  • Support equity of access to resources across the region.