The genesis of HomeFront lies in the many years of collaborative work undertaken by Calgary’s domestic violence community throughout the 1990s. Two key events in 1998 built on that collaborative foundation and served as the catalyst for HomeFront.
In February 1998, Dr. Stephen Toope, Dean of Law at McGill University, was invited by the Cathedral Church of the Holy Redeemer to speak at The Friends of the Cathedral’s Connection Series. Dr. Toope’s speech was followed, the next day, by an invitation-only workshop, which involved the Judiciary, Crown Prosecutors, Probation Officers, Defence counsel, treatment agencies and the faith community. The workshop focused on the need for improvement in the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence, for special education for all members of the justice system and for increased coordination and integration of community resources in support of the justice system. Immediately following the workshop, Calgary Justice Working Committee (CJWC) was formed to capitalize on the momentum created by Dean Toope’s visit.
The Calgary Justice Working Committee
Members of the Calgary Justice Working Committee included the Action Committee Against Violence, Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, YWCA’s Sheriff King Home, Calgary Police Service, Alberta Justice, Calgary Counselling Centre, The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, United Way of Calgary and two prominent local attorneys. CJWC organized a follow-up conference, held in April 1998, which focused on developing a framework for a coordinated justice project. Various coordinated justice projects in Canada and the United States were researched in advance of the event and presenters from some of those initiatives spoke at the conference. Individuals and organizations who could play a role in developing a coordinated justice project were invited to the conference. It was clear from the success of the follow-up conference that the potential existed to implement major changes in the way domestic violence was addressed in Calgary. Within a week of the conference, the first framework implementation group convened and developed a Business Plan and Technical Working Paper, under the auspices of the Calgary Justice Working Committee and the Action Committee Against Violence. This information was submitted to various funders in 1998 and garnered the funding support of all three levels of government, as well as community and private donors, with United Way of Calgary agreeing to act as the project’s fiscal agent.
HomeFront is realized
On May 29, 2000, HomeFront (originally called the Calgary Justice Working Project) was launched. In mid-2000, 18 months after initial formation of The Calgary Justice Working Project and conversations about the necessity of such a domestic violence court began – Alberta’s first specialized domestic court was initiated. The Calgary Justice Working Project had proven itself to be effective. Today, the project is known as HomeFront and continues to provide a best practice coordinated community and justice response to family violence.