Victims of Homicide, Western Canadian Conference

‘Moving forward- Building Hope’

Delta Edmonton South, May 15-16, 2017

Session Descriptions


Keynote Sessions

Monday May 15, 2017

9:00- 10:00 AM


Marianna Cacciatore

Stitching the Heart Back Together

In this presentation, Marianna Cacciatore draws on her professional experience in the fields of grief and philanthropy to bring attention to the ways in which sorrow and grief can become the driving force that transforms our broken heart into a heart that is open, generous, loving, and kind.

Marianna is a survivor of the kidnapping and murder of her best friend when they were only 11 years old. As a child, her grief went unattended, yet in her early 30’s, she founded a center for children in grief which, today, is a 25 years old program within a flourishing and beloved agency in Tucson, AZ. Thousands of children in her community have had support and care as they walked through their journey of grief.

Her compelling way of telling stories from her own life and the lives of others becomes a healing balm that stays with you long after you’ve gone home. Hers is a hopeful message that does not gloss over the hard realities we face, but instead treats them with a tenderness that offers respect for the truth, and a perspective that gives us courage and hope.


1:00-2:00 PM


Ashley Wellman

Understanding the Lived Experiences of Cold Case Homicide Survivors

With each unsolved homicide, approximately seven intimate family members are left behind to grieve the death of their loved one. In the event of an unsolved homicide, the homicide survivors must adapt to a new reality that is plagued with a lack of answers. This group of crime victims is largely unrecognized in the scholarly literature and often neglected by programs aimed at assisting the bereaved in general and crime victims in particular.

This keynote address will provide an overview of the lived experiences of a group of 24 cold case homicide survivors in the days, months and years following their traumatic loss and provides insight into their unique journey of bereavement. The interviews trace this journey, from the survivors‟ initial reactions to the homicide, through the obstacles and facilitators they encountered in their attempts to move forward after their loves ones‟ death, to the complex emotions involved in the anticipation of their cases being solved. While their stories at times convey typical elements of grieving, including feelings of anger, denial and blame, the survivors also describe experiences and emotions unique to their situation, particularly those associated with the long-term, open-ended nature of their grief. An overview of the thematic findings, unique discoveries and potential solutions will be discussed.


Tuesday May 16, 2017

9:00- 10:00 AM


Francoise Mathieu

Secondary Trauma: The Ripple Effect

Tragic events can have far-reaching ripple effects that impact a victim’s family, first responders, other professionals, advocates, volunteers and even journalists covering the case. This presentation will explore the most up to date research on what we now understand about secondary trauma, burnout and compassion fatigue and provide some directions for managing trauma exposure in its various forms.


2:45- 3:45 PM


Patrick Knight

Resiliency and the Auspicious Mind

Imagine waking up from a three-month coma and not being able to move a single muscle. Your mind races to make sense of everything since you were shot three months earlier, during what has become internationally known as the Thanksgiving Day Massacre. A week into your recovery, you learn that your pregnant wife was murdered in the shooting spree. While grieving, you have to learn how to talk, walk, brush your teeth, tie your shoes, write, type . . . everything.

For Patrick Knight, he doesn’t have to imagine it because I lived it. He survived it through the strength that God gave him, but it was up to him to get out of bed each day and face the world. Patrick will talk about the shooting itself, waking up after the coma and his remarkable recovery. In the end, he offers stories, analogies and a little tough love to help people realize they can survive their own adversity in life. Delegates will walk away with practical tips and suggestions on facing adversity, coping with the tough times and moving forward to a new reality.


Concurrent Sessions

Monday May 15, 2017

10:30 AM -12:00 PM – Session #1



Staff Sgt. Duane Hunter, Staff Sgt. Colin Derkson, Staff Sgt. Rick Jané RCMP

Homicide Investigations:  An Inside Perspective

In a panel discussion format, S/Sgt. Rick JANE (RCMP) S/Sgt. Duane HUNTER (EPS) and S/Sgt. Colin DERKSEN (EPS) will present an insider’s look at a typical homicide investigation.



Summer Grandbois, Pam Vicente, Mariann Rich, David Kaye

Victims of Homicide Panel

Session Description TBA



Forrest Maridas

Expressive Art Therapy

A process of your choosing will be the focus of an art therapy experience in this session.  You will not have to share your art piece and you do not need any fine art skills.  We will be using imagery to transform into new awareness about grief, healing or a situation that is asking for you to attend to it.

Imagery powerfully cuts through the daily roll-a-dex of “to do” items in our mind.  Instead we access our quiet inner voice, the processing work that wants to come to our awareness.  Art as therapy gives us an opportunity to manipulate images to change how we feel or think.  In everyday use, seeing an image in your mind or speaking about images are still both very effective for connecting to deep learning, which we will talk about.



Marianna Cacciatore

Being There for Someone in Grief

This presentation is designed to be of help to those who are grieving, and those working in criminal justice.

Grief and loss are inevitable, a part of life’s journey. At one time, we will need to midwife someone through their grief; at another time, we will need to be held in ours— each taking turns caring for each other along the way. In this session, you will learn how to be present for another in a way that is neither invasive nor evasive, and is helpful, respectful, and kind. You will also become skilled at being present for yourself, noticing your own emotional landscape while being available to another in the unpredictability that death brings.

There will be plenty of time for questions about your unique life experiences and challenges.


Monday May 15, 2017

2:15-3:45 PM – Session #2



Ashley Wellman

Cold Case Survivors’ Expectations of Case Resolution and Perpetrator Punishment

In the aftermath of an unsolved homicide, the surviving family is left to grieve without answers. During their prolonged grief, these survivors begin to construct goals and expectations in regards to the future in their case within the criminal justice system. The current study utilizes social constructivist grounded theory to gather and analyze the experiences of 24 cold case homicide survivors. The research focuses on how cold case homicide survivors understand the future of their case, including what its resolution would mean. Despite their current discontent with law enforcement, the survivors express that they expect that case to be resolved, anticipate learning the identity of a perpetrator and desire that the offender receive maximum punishment. The cold case homicide survivors in this sample have envisioned that this ideal progression will provide the missing piece needed to begin to fully heal. The data suggests that the cold case survivors’ hopes may directly conflict with the lived experiences of traditional homicide survivors whose cases have been cleared. The potential for additional harm and distress along with recommendations for cold case homicide survivors and related practitioners are included.



Annette Bidniak

Homicide Victims: Stories Behind the Headlines

Crime news is a staple in every newsroom in the free world, so reporters will always try to contact family members and friends of the victims for reaction and insight. This is particularly true in cases of homicide; the unthinkable act where someone takes the life of another.

Many are intimidated by the mere thought of talking to the media about anything, let alone trauma-fuelled cases of murder. Others welcome the chance to pay tribute to their loved one; to let people know that they are more than a mere statistic. Either way, it is the professionals in the middle that can bridge the wide gap between victims’ rights and the media’s duty to inform the public.

This workshop provides practical, hands-on techniques for professionals and volunteers alike to support and guide survivors through all aspects of media coverage from the moment the incident occurs throughout the investigation and beyond.



Dr. Louise MacKay

Understanding the Traumatic Impact on Children as a Result of Losing a Loved one to Homicide

Children are faced with many stressors in their day-to-day lives but every caregiver tries to make their children’s lives as carefree and fun as possible. Facing these day-to-day stressors with the support of their primary caregivers allows them to develop resilience. So how do children cope with traumatic stressors such as a loss of a loved one.

Indeed, losing a loved one is always difficult but when a child loses a loved one as the result of homicide then what can the impact be. If you are interested in knowing the potential impact of such trauma on our children and ways of aiding the children in coping with such traumatic loss, then please join Dr. MacKay as she discusses these important issues. Dr. MacKay will address family concerns but also professional concerns such as first responders.



Roy and Judy Louis 

Sharing Traditional Practises of Grief and Healing from a First Nation Perspective

The facilitators will model a ‘traditional healing circle’ with participants to discuss the grief process and traditional healing practises of First Nation’s people and the ceremonies related to burial procedures, wakes, and food preparation. A discussion about protocol will share how an individual could consult with an Elder or leader in his/her community, if there is an uncertainly about certain procedures. As well, personal experiences will be shared as many of their community members have faced numerous homicides and suicides over the years. This session would be helpful to social workers, police, and victims themselves on their healing journey.


Tuesday May 16, 2017

10:30-12:00 AM – Session #3



Ashley Finlayson, Mike Danyluik, Jim Stewart

The Role of Crown Council and Defence Council with Victims of Homicide

This presentation on the Court Process will include, who is a Victim, Victim’s Rights, Victim Legislation, Victim Services, Victim Impact Statements, What Information about the Homicide that can be Provided to the Families of Homicide Victims, as well as the Respective Roles of both Crown and Defence Counsel in Relation to Victims of Homicide.



Tracey Makokis

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – What Was Shared

This presentation provides an overview of “What Was Shared” by Indigenous communities in relation to a two year research initiative that was conducted between 203-2015. The goal of the research was to better understand why Indigenous women and girls are over represented among those missing and murdered and to identify a consistent, culturally safe victim services response.

Through this presentation you will gain a better understanding of the Alberta context in relation to this issue – what is working well, what the gaps are and what needs to be done to better address this issue in the future.



Francoise Mathieu

Strategies to reduce secondary trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout

There is now over two decades of research proving that working or volunteering in community mental health, law enforcement and health care carries elements of risk to the care provider: compassion fatigue, secondary trauma and burnout can take a cumulative tolls on us as individuals and as teams. What can we do to protect ourselves from the difficult stories that we work with on a regular basis, limited resources and high volume of work, while still remaining effective and compassionate?

Using the most recent research in the field, this session will explore assumptions about compassion fatigue and secondary trauma, the organizational and personal barriers that professionals and volunteers face in their daily lives, and offer new and creative approaches to transforming these occupational hazards.

Participants will learn:

  • Key Factors that increase risks of compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary trauma
  • Early intervention strategies
  • Grounding strategies: what works?



Heidi Cabay

Murder took everything from me, except my HOPE (H.O.P.E. hold on purpose evolves)

Domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, abandonment and homicide took away Heidi’s voice, worth and purpose. She was alone, invisible, unheard, and frozen in complex trauma and grief. Continuously slipping through the cracks of the systems, she created her own path to safety and healing by choosing the only true essential human need, love. Heidi is an endurance expert and she continues her journey one step at a time. Through perseverance and trust, she embraces healing and connection, all while courageously sharing her wisdom and tools to inspire others to have H.O.P.E. hold on purpose evolves.


Tuesday May 16, 2017

1:00-2:30 PM – Session #4



Sue Letendre and Donna Bradley

Basic Facts about Federal Corrections and Parole

  • Mission Statement and Legislation
  • What is Federal Corrections?


Regions, Institutions, Healing Lodges

  • Navigating a Federal Sentence

From Conviction to the Institution

Intake Assessment and Correctional Planning

Security Level

Correctional Programs

  • Federal Parole

Types of Release

Victim Role in the Parole Process

Community Supervision



Kathleen, Wayne, Krista and Karoyle

Victim Services Panel: Services and Perspectives

Panel members will discuss the journey of a victim and this panel will provide an opportunity for discussion on the services and supports that are available. Topics that will be discussed include victims in crisis, court appearances, experiences of Indigenous people and experiences in rural communities.



Jennifer Short

Homicide as Trauma for Co-Victims: Effects and Coping

Following a homicide, the families and loved ones of the victim are left behind to make sense of the crime and continue living. These are very challenging tasks. The homicide is traumatic for the co-victims and they can be impacted in ways that are similar to direct victims of trauma. The effects are further complicated by factors specific to homicide, such as involvement with the legal system and the nature of the loss.

This breakout session will examine the possible traumatic effects of homicide on co-victims, including: common reactions; the underlying causes of reactions; and the physiological changes linked to trauma. Coping strategies and therapeutic techniques that are often beneficial will also be explored.



Patrick Knight

Embracing the Pity Parties

In this session, participants will examine some of the common reactions to tragedy and the beginning stages of grief. Based on his own story and anecdotes from hundreds of victims he has spoken with over the last seven years, Mr. Knight will share lessons learned in embracing the initial grief and pity parties that follow a tragic event. Participants will also identify steps to begin moving forward during this first stage of grief.

Contact Information

Cathy Harvey, Event Coordinator
(780) 485-5955