State of the art centre for child abuse victims unveiled

Calgary will soon be home to a centre devoted to treating child abuse.

The Calgary Child Advocacy Centre is being billed as the first of its kind in Canada

A state of the art centre for child abuse, being called the first of its kind in Canada, will open in Calgary this year.

The Calgary Child Advocacy Centre was unveiled today. It will be housed near the Alberta Children's Hospital and Ronald MacDonald House and is scheduled to open in the fall.

It will bring together lawyers, counsellors, medical staff and other professionals.

Premier Alison Redford was on hand for the centre's unveiling. (CBC)

It's estimated 10,000 children a year in Calgary and area are abused.

It's been 14 years since NHLer Sheldon Kennedy came forward with his story of abuse at the hands of his junior coach Graham James.

Eighteen months ago he took the idea of this centre to Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson.

The city and the province got on board as did Cenovus Energy and ARC Resources — who have each chipped in a million dollars.

All of the frontline services needed — medical, legal, counselling — will be brought to the child and family in one place.

Centre to strive for abuse prevention

"Imagine you're a five-year-old or seven-year-old or a 10-year-old who has been the victim of child abuse and you get dragged into four separate buildings that are designed as government agencies. It's got to be terrifying," said Hanson.

There will also be a focus on research to learn ways to prevent abuse.

Hanson said he absolutely believes the centre will save lives.

Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson absolutely believes the centre will save lives. (CBC)

"I think an important part of what this centre will do ... is talk about public education," said Premier Alison Redford.

Kennedy said he was reminded this year how badly it's needed.

"I couldn't help thinking as I attended the sentencing hearing of Graham James recently in Winnipeg how difficult it would be to have to face the court system and our abuser as a child."

The centre will help ensure children no longer have to tell their horrific story over and over, said executive director Tara Robinson.

"Families will no longer be confused about where to go and how to get the help they need. They no longer have to navigate a scary adult world. They come here. One amazing place and the services wrap around them," said Robinson.