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Daughter of Oshawa homicide victim starts coast-to-coast campaign to push for victims’ rights

Click to play video: 'Daughter of Oshawa homicide victim starts nation-wide campaign to fight for victims’ rights' Daughter of Oshawa homicide victim starts nation-wide campaign to fight for victims’ rights
Lisa Freeman has been pushing for changes within the Canadian correctional and parole systems. As Jasmine Pazzano reports, Freeman says she hopes her new campaign will lead to more victims being heard – Apr 6, 2018

Lisa Freeman has sent several emails and letters to the Canadian Correctional Service and parole board, asking for better rights for victims, but there is a letter she has kept with her for years — one she says she wrote for herself.

“I find myself incarcerated in the nightmare of your crime,” she reads from the letter, speaking to John Terrance Porter, the man who took away her father’s life in 1991. “Every opportunity you have is an opportunity I don’t get.”

This year, Freeman decided to ask Canadians to lend their voices in helping her push for better rights. She took to social media to ask victims and survivors of crime, as well as anyone interested in participating, to write down excerpts from her letter and take a photo. She pieced together the photos and created a video that now has thousands of views.

“It [has] made me feel less isolated as a daughter of a homicide victim that I know that there are other people out there who feel the same way I do,” she said.
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She says the letter explains how the Canadian correctional and parole systems have made her feel that her rights are second to Porter’s since he was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Roland Slingerland, Freeman’s father, in 1992.

Freeman says it was a random attack — Porter had been looking for his girlfriend at an Oshawa, Ont., rooming house and instead encountered Slingerland, a caretaker at the home, and then bludgeoned him to death with an axe. Porter was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility set at 25 years.

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In 2017, Correctional Service Canada told her the offender had been moved from Kingston, Ont., to near where her sister lives in B.C.

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She says she told the government about her concern that her sister may worry about living so close to her father’s killer and that she wished her family had known he would be moving.

She said she was appalled when CSC revealed the reason why he moved: the waitlist for the programs he wanted to access is shorter in British Columbia than in Kingston.

She says this is one of many examples of how the systems violate victims’ rights. “[I have been] constantly told all through these years that, you know, it’s the offender’s right to this, it’s the offender’s right to that.”

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She has been corresponding with the federal government about her concerns, but she feels her voice isn’t being heard. “You can only write so many letters and make so many phone calls before you just get frustrated,” said Freeman.

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Hannah Scott, a criminology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, says a reason the video has garnered so much attention may be that Freeman is asking for necessary changes within the correctional and parole systems.

“We can’t expect the victim always to be participant, to be the victim witness, to bring the offender to justice with their testimony,” she said, “but then also not acknowledge that there are challenges in being the victim.”

In a statement, Correctional Service Canada says it “is committed to ensuring that victims of crime have an effective voice in the federal correctional and justice system,” and it wants “to make sure that victims are treated with compassion, fairness and respect.”

Freeman says she is working toward meeting with the government to discuss her concerns, and in the meantime, she will continue her fight. “Hopefully, someday… victims’ rights are equal to, or greater than, the rights of the offenders because they should always be heard louder.”

READ MORE: Alberta woman says vicious sexual assault changed her life: ‘I am a survivor’

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