Organization of the CAVAC

Information on the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC may be found under the headings:

Team of professionals

Persons seeking assistance from the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC are assured of competent services delivered by a team of professional support workers with a degree in social work, some of whom are members of the Ordre professionnel des travailleurs sociaux du Québec.

The support workers' expertise in the area of justice-related social and post-trauma intervention allows them to effectively respond in crisis situations and to reassure victims that they will be treated with respect in their dealings with the justice system.

The organization makes the ongoing development of its support workers a priority.


Towards the end of the 1970s, a major social movement emerged in support of victims of all types of crime. Québec participated in this movement in several areas and in a range of ways, giving continued attention to the phenomenon of "victimization". The feminist movement demanded the creation of community organizations to develop services for women victims of violence and the establishment assistance centres for victims of sexual assault (to become known as CALACS).

Other groups demanded that special attention be paid not only to victims but also to their immediate family. A number of programs were set up at that time but had to be discontinued due to lack of adequate funding. The Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, a victim advocacy and assistance organization, contributed significantly to the recognition of victims' rights during those years.

In 1979, nearly all community groups in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean area participated in a symposium on violence sponsored by the then Minister of Justice, Marc-André Bédard. The symposium highlighted the need for resources for victims of crime at the judicial level.

Marthe Vaillancourt had already prepared an intervention plan which was submitted to the Minister of Justice at the beginning of 1980s. Numerous discussions and meetings were held before a program to provide assistance to women victims of violence started up on February 8, 1981, as part of the Sûreté du Québec's criminal investigations office in Chicoutimi. Assistance, support and accompaniment services were offered to women victims of violence at the courthouse until June 1984.

Sûreté du Québec staff cuts led to the relocation of the assistance program to the Saguenay-Nord CLSC. A team of support workers formed in 1985 began offering a comprehensive response to women victims of violence while Marthe Vaillancourt continued to provide justice-related accompaniment services.

The project was pursued, renewed from one year to the next. On becoming Minister of Justice, Herbert Marx undertook consultations throughout Québec and found that the Saguenay area was the only area in the province to be benefiting from the types of services Marthe Vaillancourt was offering.

The Minister examined the types of intervention prevalent in Europe and the other parts of Canada before presenting his framework for action in Québec. He determined that the same type of assistance services being offered to women victims of crime through the project should be offered to all victims of crime.

On June 16, 1988, the National Assembly passed the Act respecting assistance for victims of crime under the sponsorship of Herbert Marx to provide Québec with a comprehensive assistance policy for victims of crime and a network of crime victims assistance centres which would be referred to as CAVACs. Two CAVACs both sponsored by the local YMCA were established at that time, one in Montréal and one in Québec.

The Service d'aide aux victimes d'actes criminels de Chicoutimi received its letters patent on August 16, 1988, following which it inaugurated the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC. The centre officially began offering services, and at the beginning of 1989 moved into new premises. The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC was the first autonomous CAVAC and the first to have premises in the courthouse to be used by victims and witnesses.

In 1998, CAVAC director Marthe Vaillancourt was awarded the Prix de la Justice. The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC is an active CAVAC, truly committed to offering assistance to victims. In addition to participating in prevention activities and preparing submissions for draft legislation, the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC has been instrumental in the creation of numerous activities to help young people who have been witnesses to violence, to promote the safety of women and to counter abuse of the elderly . The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC also launched a project known as Accord-Victimes which enables victims to be involved from the very outset of the legal process.

The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean CAVAC is proud of its achievements over the years, and the centre continues to offer assistance to a growing number of individuals. Its support staff have a Bachelor's degree or college diploma in social work. There are also a number of students from the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and the Cégep de Jonquière at the CAVAC who, in completing their studies, also make a significant contribution to the organization.

Service area

The service area of the Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean CAVAC corresponds chiefly to the area served by the courthouses of Chicoutimi (District of Chicoutimi), Alma (judicial district of Alma), Roberval (judicial district of Roberval) and Chibougamau (judicial district of Abitibi).

To find out in which judicial district your municipality is located, click here .