Nearly fourteen months after it was announced, Calgary’s first Child Advocacy Centre is open and beginning to assist abused children.  

The Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, located on the University of Calgary campus near the Alberta Children’s Hospital, brings together police, social workers, physicians, psychologists and prosecutors in an effort to help both child abuse victims and their families.

“We know child abuse is a problem.  We know it’s a problem right in our own backyard,” says Sheldon Kennedy, a child advocate and the centre’s namesake.  “It’s time to shine a light on the issue and come together to address child abuse together as a community.”

More than $8 million has been committed to the centre by corporate and community partners and the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.

At Thursday’s unveiling of the new centre, Rob Nicholson, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the centre will receive nearly $350,000 in federal funding to assist young victims and their families.

"Child abuse in all its forms is an appalling crime that has a lifelong impact on its victims," says Minister Nicholson. "Our Government is proud to support the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, whose mission is to provide hope, help, and healing to those impacted by child abuse, and which will be a valuable tool in addressing the needs of young victims and their families in southern Alberta."

The inclusion of the Calgary Police Service, Child & Family Services, Alberta Health and Crown Prosecution at one location will reduce the number of times a child needs to revisit their assault in interviews and is expected to strengthen the criminal case against abusers and expedite the conviction process.

Kennedy is a former NHL player who was abused as a teenager by minor league coach Graham James.  In 1996, Kennedy revealed his abuse at the hand of James.  Kennedy has been a vocal supporter of child abuse victims and harsher penalties for child abusers.