Christopher’s Journey

A video interview with Christopher Ducharme, founder of BC Victims of Homicide, who discusses how supporting other victims has allowed him to move forward. Christopher also speaks about some of his creative endeavours, and the benefits that they have provided him.

Symbol of the Government of Canada

Poem by Chris Ducharme

Transcript

This is Christopher Ducharme, whose struggle as a victim of homicide evolved in Western Canada.

In the mid-90's, he was one of three kids, living at the time with their divorced mother, in Campbell River, BC.

15 years ago, I was 14 years old.

And I was just heading back to Alberta to visit my father for spring break, and it was supposed to be a week of romance between my mom and her common-law boyfriend, and it ended in a tragedy.

It was... obviously, a very traumatic experience.

When the news came on the telephone is how it came, and my brother came out of the bedroom and he gave this news to us and almost immediately we knew - even before he said what happened - we knew she was gone.

But at that moment, we all huddled, it was probably the first healing process of a very long journey.

But for Chris and his siblings, the difficult process of dealing with this murder .. was just beginning.

When I returned back to the school I was attending, all of my high school friend basically couldn't relate.

And they didn't know how to relate.

I lost those friendships because they didn't know how to talk to me.

So... ...there was a lot of dark moments.

The first couple of years, there was a lot of emptiness and grieving and depression.

I had some suicidal thoughts.

Never fortunately acted on them, but you know, you get tempted, especially at that age, to get into the substance abuse and that sort of thing.

"Healing was a tough process, especially in his teen years, but Chris, like some other victims, discovered a creative outlet, which became very powerful."

I think expression as a basic principle is very important for healing.

For me, poetry became that.

That was my first form of art that I developed - about 9 months from day my mum was murdered, to the day I wrote my 1st poem.

Some of it's really, really dark and heavy stuff.

And I actually had no shame in sharing it.

And to be honest, this here is my poetry book.

So it's the first book I wrote.

So when I read through it, I can actually see the changes that took place in my life.

But Chris' poetry was very internal... and he gradually began sharing his story with others.

Part of my moving forward in my grief was talking about it, and telling people, and I told many, many people my story - thousands, I've told, personally - not to mention through media.

For me, I was comfortable with that and I needed to do.

And every victim, every person, has a different way of coping: different way of managing their stress, and interacting.

By 2005, ten years after the homicide, Chris was living in Alberta, and beginning another stage of his move forward.

At that point, I came across the Victims of Homicide Support Society of Edmonton, and that was a support group that was available to all public - anybody who's been afflicted by homicide.

When I attended that group, I started to realize it wasn't just about sharing the story.

That was so powerful.

But you're sharing with people who truly understood.

So when I moved from Edmonton to Vancouver, I said, " I want to start up the Victims of Homicide project there."

"Within a couple of years of arriving in Vancouver, Chris was able to use his own experience... to create a new, dedicated organization called the "BC Victims of Homicide": "BC Victims of Homicide is targeting support for people who've been affected in one way or another - typically, it's family friends and acquaintances who've known someone who's died from a homicide.

For Chris - both personally, and in his work with other victims of homicide - it's been a long journey... that's not over yet: Moving forward for me - now that I've done a lot of the work on myself - I've been through the depths of despair - but right now at this point, I'm at a place where I can be healthy, and I'm thankful that I can actually take a bit of a step back and see the big picture of what we're trying to do here.

and this whole involvement for me has allowed me to look outside myself.

And that's a healing process.

 

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