Parkland Victims Services hires Indigenous resource officer

Parkland Victims Services has hired Irene McArthur, a member of the White Bear First Nation, as the Indigenous resource officer to work out of the Yorkton and Kamsack RCMP detachments.

Hired effective July 2, McArthur succeeds Leonard Keshane of the Keeseekoose First Nation, who after about five years in that position, has accepted the job as the Victims Services co-ordinator in Yorkton.

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McArthur, who was raised on the White Bear First Nation and has had the opportunity to work in various fields in her home First Nation, has worked in the health care and administration fields, and education. She moved to Yorkton in 2018 with her sons and had started out working in the health care industry as a care aide at the Yorkton Crossing Retirement Community. She was a casual job coach with SaskAbilities and recently has been working in the Adolescent Group Home as a youth worker.

Last week, she and Carol Marriott, the Parkland Victims Services assistant co-ordinator at Kamsack, discussed their roles with the organization, which includes helping individuals complete victim impact statements and victims’ compensation application forms.

McArthur said that as the Indigenous resource officer she is directly accountable to the Victims Services co-ordinator in regards to the initiation, assignment and follow-up of Victims Services files and the Yorkton, Wadena or Kamsack RCMP detachments when assisting the police with crime prevention and awareness.

She will be working closely with Cote, The Key, Keeseekoose and Fishing Lake First Nations communities.

McArthur said she is responsible for providing essential services to Indigenous victims of crime and their families, including crisis intervention, information, support and assistance, court orientation and accompaniment and referral. She is responsible for addressing community interests and/or concerns as a focus for advocacy within the justice system on behalf of Indigenous victims of crime.

The position involves substantial contact with the public, volunteer victim support workers, community agencies and police employees, she said, adding that she operates with strict confidentiality on all police and Victims Services matters to ensure the credibility of the Victims Services program and victims’ privacy and ensures that services are provided to victims in the following priority: victims of reported crime; victims of unreported crime, and at-risk individuals.

McArthur, who has four sons ranging in age from 13 to 27, and three granddaughters, says she enjoys domestic life being a mother and grandmother. She also attends sundances in different communities, including White Bear and Piapot, and now is preparing for the sundance in Ocean Man First Nation. She says she enjoys travelling to various cultural events such as round dances, powwows or summer celebrations, but due to the pandemic, has not made any plans to travel this summer.

McArthur said she will be coming to Kamsack as needed, probably about once or twice a week.

At Kamsack she is working with Marriott and “a strong team” of five volunteers: Sylvia Boychuk, Anita Klochko, Diane Smutt, Nancy Klempp and newcomer Shannon Broda-Vanin.

Marriott said that although she works 20 hours a week at her job, the volunteers devote from five to 15 hours a week, depending on demand, dealing with the many files that require their attention.

A victim is any person who has suffered harm including physical injury, economic loss or emotional suffering as a result of a crime or traumatic event, says information from the program. “Staff and trained volunteers are available through local police services to provide you with information and support immediately after the crime and throughout the criminal justice process. If there are other agencies in your community that are able to help you, Victims Services will tell you how to contact them.”

“We are not counsellors, but we can make the referrals victims may need,” Marriott said.

“The effects of crime and tragedy are all around us,” said information from Parkland Victims Services. “Many of us have been victims or know of a victim or a family that has suffered the impact of a crime or tragedy.

“Besides experiencing confusion, fear and anger, victims often have to deal with a number of problems involving emotional and physical injuries, issues with finances and employment and conflicts with family,” it said. “There may be confusion with the justice system, questions about the investigation and a need to know exactly what is happening. Parkland Victims Services is dedicated to helping victims.”

The program offers emotional support; information on one’s case; help to understand “the system;” court updates, referral to other appropriate agencies; home and hospital visits; crime prevention information and presentations to community groups. Representatives explain police procedures and the court process and procedures.

“Our goal is to help you make the transition from victim to survivor,” the information said. “As caring, trained victim support workers, we want to help you discover that, even though life may never be the same again, life can still be good again.”