Jared’s Place: Turn­ing tragedy into ad­vo­cacy Be­cause both com­mu­nity and le­gal sys­tems failed, a hor­ren­dous tragedy oc­curred

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - NANCY SMITH Nancy Smith is Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Interval House of Hamil­ton

When I read Su­san Clair­mont’s ar­ti­cle, A Fam­ily’s Cru­elty, The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor (Mon­day, June 19) it broke my heart again, even though I know Jared’s story well and have met with Julie Craven many times over the years. Jared would have been 20 years old this year, and his mother lives daily with the pain of his ter­ri­ble un­timely death at the hands of his father 12 years ago. Be­cause both com­mu­nity and le­gal sys­tems failed, a hor­ren­dous tragedy oc­curred and Jared was killed.

Through her dev­as­tat­ing and un­fath­omable grief Julie Craven has ad­vo­cated con­sis­tently for change so that her son’s death would not be in vain. The first step was to en­sure there was an in­quest into Jared’s death, so that we could all un­der­stand what sys­tems failed, lead­ing to Jared be­ing in an un­su­per­vised court or­dered ac­cess visit even though his father had been con­victed of vi­o­lent crimes.

The in­quest into Jared’s death re­sulted in ‘Kevin and Jared’s Law’, which re­quires a coro­ner’s in­quest when­ever a child is killed in On­tario by the crim­i­nal act of a par­ent. Julie Craven re­ceived the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Victim Ser­vices Award of Dis­tinc­tion in recog­ni­tion of her ad­vo­cacy for this, but there was more to be done. She wanted her son’s sac­ri­fice to po­ten­tially save the lives of other chil­dren.

Julie car­ried out her mis­sion, in the name of her son all while be­ing tor­mented time and time again as writ­ten and briefly de­scribed by Su­san Clair­mont (see above).

Interval House of Hamil­ton (IHOH) sup­ports women with or with­out chil­dren who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing abuse or vi­o­lence. In 2010 IHOH opened Jared’s Place, a pro­gram op­er­ated out of the IHOH Women’s Cen­ter in down­town Hamil­ton. Jared’s Place is named in hon­our of Julie Craven’s son, Jared Osi­dacz. The pur­pose of Jared’s Place is to pro­vide le­gal ad­vo­cacy that sup­ports sys­tem nav­i­ga­tion and re­sources with re­gards to Fam­ily, Crim­i­nal, Im­mi­gra­tion, and Civil Law, pro­vid­ing safety plan­ning, in­for­ma­tion and ad­vo­cacy for women to sup­port their safety as they make de­ci­sions that en­hance the safety for them­selves and their chil­dren.

As re­ported by CBC News, each year in Canada, ap­prox­i­mately 30 chil­dren are killed by a parental fig­ure. There is a 60/40 ra­tio in terms of fa­thers killing chil­dren com­pared to moth­ers. With women, it tends to be re­lated to very young chil­dren and there are un­der­ly­ing men­tal-health is­sues such as post­par­tum de­pres­sion.

With men, the con­text is usu­ally do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and an act of re­venge and dev­as­tat­ing re­tal­i­a­tion against a part­ner who has left the re­la­tion­ship. (Peter Jaffe, Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion, Uni­ver­sity of Western On­tario, CBC, Oc­to­ber 26, 2015).

If I were to put Julie Craven’s mes­sage in a nut­shell, it would be this: when a mother comes to you for help and tells you about her fears for her­self and/or her child, please, please believe her, and help her pro­tect her­self and her child from harm.

It is up to all of us to en­sure that com­mu­nity and le­gal re­sources are in place for a woman and her chil­dren when and if she should need them. As a so­ci­ety, it is our joint re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that she or her child do not be­come an­other statis­tic!

All Interval House of Hamil­ton pro­grams for women and their chil­dren are of­fered at no cost. With­out on­go­ing com­mu­nity sup­port, we could not con­tinue to as­sist some 170 women and their chil­dren who stay in our shel­ter on a yearly ba­sis, the more than 480 women who re­ceive IHOH coun­selling ser­vices each year, or the more than thou­sands of cri­sis calls we re­spond to ev­ery year.

Interval House of Hamil­ton is a 22-bed emer­gency shel­ter for women and their chil­dren lo­cated on the west moun­tain. IHOH runs coun­selling and sup­port pro­grams: in Wa­ter­down at the Flam­bor­ough Women’s Cen­tre, and in down­town Hamil­ton at the cen­tre of our city’s ur­ban core.

Jared’s Place re­ceives no gov­ern­ment fund­ing and re­lies on do­na­tions and fundrais­ing ef­forts to keep its doors open. We will do ev­ery­thing we can to en­sure women re­ceive qual­ity and re­spon­sive ser­vice at Jared’s Place. We are hon­oured to have our le­gal advocate pro­gram named af­ter Julie’s son.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about Interval House of Hamil­ton, the Hamil­ton Women’s Cen­tre or Jared’s Place, please visit in­ter­val­house­hamil­ton.org or call 905-387-9959.

When a mother comes to you for help and tells you about her fears for her­self and/or her child, please, please believe her.

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Jared Osi­dacz at age 8. He was mur­dered by his dad, An­drew Osi­dacz who was then shot and killed by po­lice.

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