Calgary defence lawyer starts charity for families dealing with domestic violence

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Calgary defence lawyer starts domestic violence charity for families
WATCH: A Calgary defence lawyer has started a charity to help families going through the court system after her own personal experience. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Sep 19, 2022

Rebecca Snukal has been a defence lawyer in Calgary for 18 years, but nothing could have prepared her for when she experienced the legal system from other side.

“After a difficult personal experience, I realized that there really is sort of a gap in terms of assisting individuals with certain things in the court process,” Snukal said  “The court process was, and is,  sometimes a much more difficult process than we necessarily understand, especially when we are working in it every day,”

She said some of the gaps she noticed were in access to counseling and the ability to pay for counseling.

“Reporting a crime and then following through with it is often a lengthy court process and it can be so difficult.  We want to be able to support the courageous families that go through the domestic violence process,” Snukal said.

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After seeing the gaps in the system, Snukal responded by founding Franny’s Fund in 2021. Over the past year, she’s been helping to raise money for local groups like HomeFront that assist people exposed to domestic violence.

“To be able to support these individuals from from the inception of the charge through the duration of their matter while they are going through the justice system is critical,” said HomeFront’s Executive Director Maggie MacKillop.

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Alberta criminal defence lawyers stage walkout in legal aid battle

“To be able to have funds that support individuals, families and children coming through the justice system at a time of crisis and need is absolutely critical, and that’s what Franny’s Fund is going to do.”

MacKillop said Franny’s Fund will assist families in instances where they are in need of specialized legal services, mental health and counselling that is not provided or available to them by other resources.

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Siblings of a victim may also be traumatized by what has happened, Franny’s Fund acknowledged.

Snukal said her experience taught her there is help out there, but the agencies that provide it can definitely use assistance.

“‘Difficult’ is the best way to put it. But it also showed me that there are some incredible frontline workers in our community. And it taught me about the importance of the court process, but from a different angle,” Snukal said.

Tickets are now on sale for Franny’s Fund first fundraising event on Sept. 24 at The Nash to raise money for two organizations that help victims in domestic-related crimes: Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, and HomeFront.

“Rebecca has a vision,” MacKillop said. “She’s passionate and she has personal experience, she saw a need and she’s making it a reality to help others. HomeFront is grateful to be a part of it.”

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