From Victim to Supporting Victims – Susheel’s Story

Delivering newspapers in Etobicoke was Susheel Gupta’s very first job. He was 12. On Sunday, June 23, 1985, Susheel’s life and the lives of his father and brother changed forever.

Susheel’s mother, Ramwati, was one of the 329 souls aboard Air India flight 182 when it exploded in mid-Air off the coast of Ireland. Ramwati was the victim of the largest ever terrorist attack against Canadian citizens.

When his father told Susheel about his mother’s death, the work ethic instilled in him by his immigrant parents kicked in, and Susheel went about delivering his papers.

Susheel’s work ethic continues to this day. In addition to his volunteer work as Board Chair of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, Susheel is a Member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) National Working Group on responding to Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence, and a Member of International Network Supporting Victims of Terrorism and Mass Violence (INVICTM).

Recently Susheel sat down to write this note to CRCVC supporters:

Dear CRCVC Supporters, Since the tragedy that deeply affected me and my family, I have made it my professional career and personal mission to help victims of terrorism and crime.

I had been doing this for many decades when the CRCVC reached out to me simply to ask if there was anything they could do for me. They did this without expecting anything back. This outreach encouraged me to join them in caring for the justice system, caring for communities and caring for victims.

I became more and more engaged when I saw the impact the CRCVC was having on people across the country. I knew I had to stay involved. I saw the various facets of support they offer including support groups, providing written support, advocating to Parliament and provincial legislatures for people who are in their weakest moment, having just suffered a loss to crime.

CRCVC was there to give these people a hug, to be their voice and to be their advocate. As a trained lawyer I know how important it is to have someone to lean on, to stand up for you, to be your advocate, especially when you are an innocent victim of crime.

When a crime occurs, it’s not a single day or a single incident. It has lifelong repercussions for the victim and their loved ones. It also affects our communities and our entire country. This is why it is important to have organizations like the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime to be there for the entire lifespan of a crime victim.

The nature of the crime against my mother and my family is very public. We are not only reminded of her death on every birthday or anniversary, we mourn with the public on a national scale every June 23rd.

It took almost twenty years for the trial to run its course. It was a constant reminder. We were engaged with the criminal justice system for over two decades. It was my suffering that fueled my desire to help other victims in the future.

The CRCVC plays a remarkable role in helping fulfill this dream.

Why support the CRCVC?

The CRCVC runs on donations. This support allows them to do more than just hold the hands of victims. They work in the thick of things.

Whether it be writing victim impact statements, attending parole board hearings or advising on victim’s compensation rights. CRCVC makes people stronger. They help people return to some form of normalcy. They help people get back to work. They improve lives for all Canadians.

When someone is in a time of emotional weakness and trauma, they need trusted support to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare and all the things that need to be done. It’s overwhelming and we have to ensure CRCVC is there to help.

The mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of someone so innocent, so in need is eased when they have a trusted shoulder to cry on and for someone to help them get back on their feet, to deal with the pain and the suffering they endure.

Victims are purely innocent people who have not brought on the fate they must endure. They deserve our support.

If you are reading this, you either support the CRCVC or maybe you’re thinking about it. You play a big role in creating their resiliency.

Your compassion, your empathy as a donor helps victims who can sometimes be easily forgotten.

CRCVC never forgets. They couldn’t do what they do without you.

Thank you.

Susheel Gupta Chair, Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime