Our story begins in 2002. A child who has just recently experienced abuse is sitting outside an interview room at police headquarters. There are strange people, dressed in uniform, walking through the hallways past them. Surrounding the child are concrete walls. Fluorescent lights buzz overhead.
There are no toys, blankets, or other comforts to provide a welcome distraction, no trained advocates to guide that child through what’s about to unfold or to offer a reassuring smile. When it’s time, the child is called into a cold, grey interview room. It’s the same room a suspect was interviewed in moments earlier.
Following the interview, that child is left to navigate the daunting criminal justice system and healing process on their own. They might have to re-live that process many times, in many different buildings, to many different adults.
Each time, telling their story becomes more and more difficult. That was 16 years ago, and now that story has changed.
Today, when a child experiences abuse, they arrive at the Zebra Child Protection Centre – our community’s response to child abuse. The Zebra Centre is a place that welcomes them from the moment they step off the elevator.
They are met by a multi-disciplinary team of partners who will support them every step of the way. It’s a place where children’s resiliency is seen and heard every day, as laughter echoes down the halls. It’s a place where every child is believed, and bravery is celebrated.
When a child leaves the Centre, they carry a bit of the Zebra Centre with them – knowing they are supported throughout the entire process. They are optimistic for what their bright future holds.