The province is appointing a co-ordinator to lead its latest effort to increase support for victims of domestic violence and their families.
Valerie Jewkes will oversee Nova Scotia’s first Domestic Violence Court, when it begins hearing cases this spring. The province has invested $1-million to develop the specialized court, which will be launched as a pilot program in Sydney. It will cost $800,000 annually to operate.
“Thousands of Nova Scotians are living with violence and we need to do things differently to stop the cycle of abuse and make life better for victims and their families,” said Ross Landry, Minister of Justice. “That’s why we’re investing in a specialized court that will help keep victims and their families safe and intervene with offenders to change their behaviour.”
Ms. Jewkes joined the Department of Justice in 1996 in the Family Court division and, most recently was acting court administrator at the Supreme Court, Family Division. As the new co-ordinator of the Domestic Violence Court, Ms. Jewkes will act as the liaison between the judiciary, justice partners such as the Public Prosecution Service, Legal Aid and private bar, community-based service providers and Nova Scotians affected by domestic violence, including victims, their families and offenders.
The departments of Justice, Community Services and Health and Wellness, the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Office of Aboriginal Affairs, the Public Prosecution Service and Nova Scotia Legal Aid have been working since last year to launch the court.
Teams of justice and community experts in Sydney are also helping to determine how the court will operate. This group includes the Second Chance Society, Cape Breton Transition House, Elizabeth Fry Society, Everywoman’s Place, Family Services of Eastern Nova Scotia, Island Community Justice Society, Mi’kmaw Family Services, Mi’kmaw Legal Support Network, Cape Breton Regional Police Service and the RCMP.
“We are all looking forward to the implementation of the domestic violence court,” said Mark Sherlock, executive director of Second Chance Society. “It has been an exciting year working on the development of the pilot project and we hope this court will improve the services available to our communities.”
The Domestic Violence Court is a key part of the province’s domestic violence action plan. To learn more about the plan, visit www.nsdomesticviolence.ca .