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Kristen French Remembered
September 19, 2014 permalink
The Child Advocacy Centre Niagara has renamed itself the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara. Under its old name, it has been in these columns twice before,  . Both times fixcas warned that the organization is a honeypot, luring children with a false promise of confidentiality into the family destruction system. A still earlier article from the Niagara Falls Review suggested that David Gill was affiliated with both Niagara Family and Children's Services (FACS) and the Child Advocacy Centre. Today's article says: "The centre streamlines Niagara child abuse investigations by bringing Niagara Regional Police detectives, Family and Children's Services workers and other agencies under one roof."
Canadians were appalled when schoolgirl Kristen Dawn French was murdered in 1992 by serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Placing her name on an institution that forcibly separates parents and children will make the name Kristen French reviled by large numbers of clients who have been drawn into the facility. This is not the way to honor the memory of an innocent girl.
Kristen French honoured with centre renaming 19
Donna French has to believe that, in her daughter's worse moments, there were pieces of her very core Kristen French never lost.
Her courage. Her dignity. Her faith.
And it is those qualities she hopes children who come to Niagara's only child advocacy centre will find within themselves in seeing Kristen French's name on the front lawn.
"What happened to Kristen was something so horrible it is beyond what any parent could even conceive of," French said Tuesday afternoon afternoon. "But she never lost her courage or her faith. And while it is a sad state of affairs that we even need an advocacy centre, it is important we have a place where children can feel safe and I hope this children will see Kristen and find strength."
The centre celebrated it's sixth anniversary Tuesday by renaming the centre the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara.
Kristen French was a 15-year-old Holy Cross Secondary School student when she was abducted by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka and killed in 1992.
Her father, Doug French and former Niagara Regional Police deputy chief Frank Parkhouse spear headed the initial fundraising drive to open the centre.
During a brief service to honor Kristen French and rename the centre, Parkhouse said Doug French used to sit as the chairman of the board of directors for the centre until his retirement.
"Even after he retired you still saw him coming to the centre to do some painting or check on how things were going," said Parkhouse.
The centre streamlines Niagara child abuse investigations by bringing Niagara Regional Police detectives, Family and Children's Services workers and other agencies under one roof. Child victims can tell their stories once or twice in a child-friendly environment, instead of doing interviews over and over again with various strangers.
The children who come to the centre are victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, Internet exploitation or are witnesses to violence.
Janet Hardy, the centre's executive director, said the centre has facilitated more than 1,700 interview with suspected abused children in its six years.
She said renaming the centre after Kristen French is about giving hope to the children who come there, but also serves as a reminder as to why the centre is necessary.
"There is a spectrum of child abuse, and Kristen was a victim of the most extreme form," she said. "Obviously, other children are abused, and it is still serious, but not as extreme. We think it is important for people to know just how bad it gets."
After the new sign on the front lawn of Forster Street centre was unveiled, Donna and Doug French joined family, friends and centre staff in releasing balloons in Kristen French's memory.
Source: St Catharines Standard