Dr. Anne Williams will be remembered by many people for many reasons. For those of us who worked with her on Yukon projects to help victims of crime, she will be remembered particularly for her commitment to making things better for survivors of sexualized violence and for children who are victims or witnesses to crime.
Anne was a hard-working, accessible and committed member of the Sexual Assault Response Committee, Project LYNX (a group that brings professionals together to improve supports for child victims and witnesses of crime) and a framework committee on sexualized assault and domestic violence. Those of us who worked with her on these projects knew a woman who would bring both professional and personal commitment to her work. As someone who provided direct service and care to victims, she taught us how to care for assault victims, children and their families. Anne modelled the principles of respect and dignity for victims.
For years, Anne was one of only a few doctors working as a medical professional to provide forensic examinations to victims of sexual assault. When she realized how necessary the service was, she recruited and trained other medical professionals to provide it. Anne also endeavoured to make sexual assault examination kits better, both from the perspective of improving evidence collection and from the perspective of eliminating unnecessary or hurtful steps for those in the process. She took the time to publicly advocate for dignity and choice during medical examinations for victims of sexualized violence.
In 2012, Anne was instrumental in organizing Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training in the Yukon. When it looked as though the training might not go ahead, Anne put her own money towards it. She actively recruited other support and funding.
She went above and beyond her role as a physician because she knew the training mattered. Because of Anne’s work and her commitment, there are 16 nurses and a number of doctors across the territory trained to provide the kind of care she knew was important for survivors of sexualized violence.
She was willing to testify in court on behalf of victims and was considered a medical expert. She worked with doctors, hospital employees, RCMP, transition home workers, families and victims to improve care and support.
We remember her as genuine, as curious. She would listen intently and thoughtfully, and then act decisively. She used her credibility as a medical professional to make things better for the people in her care. Anne often worked “behind the scenes” to make the biggest difference, never needing acknowledgement for the incredible work she did.
Anne was stubborn – in the best way, and especially when it counted, when something needed to be done. She had little patience with waiting for official channels when there was important work to be accomplished. Few people can be so persistent and yet so kind.
When the group that came together to provide supports and services to child victims and witnesses was looking for a name, it was Anne who spoke up. She suggested the name Project Lynx, to reflect the crucial links of support members were providing while highlighting a Yukon animal. Anne brought in her own photo of a lynx to share with the group, and this photo will be hung in a child-friendly witness room at the law centre.
The loss of Anne Williams is the loss of a crucial link (“lynx”) in our work to support victims of violent crime and sexualized assault. We honour her work and renew our commitment to continue it in her memory.
Renee-Claude Carrier and Barbara McInerney, Yukon Women’s Transition Home;
Cst. Kelly Manweiller, Cst. Kelly Plamondon, Cst. Michael Simpson, Cpl. Calista McLeod and C/Supt. Peter Clark, Yukon RCMP;
Jan Trim, RCMP Victim Assistance Volunteer;
Kirsten Madsen, Yukon Women’s Directorate;
Dr. Robin Jamieson, Klondyke Medical Clinic;
John Phelps and Noel Sinclair, Public Prosecution Service of Canada;
Penny Rawlings, Whitehorse General Hospital;
Jane Bates, Brad Bell, Tim Darling, Jana Hyer McDonald and Sheila Thompson, Yukon Health and Social Services;
Christina Sim, Kwanlin Dun Health Centre;
Dr. Keddy Adams, Whitehorse Medical Clinic;
Annette King, Michelle Rabeau, Michele Dupont, Lareina Twardochleb, Corinne Carvill, Sheri Blaker, Kelly Allen and Lindsay Roberts, Yukon Justice;
Along with the other members of both the Sexual Assault Response Committee (SARC) and the Project Lynx Committee.