Calgary defence lawyer starts charity for families dealing with domestic violence

Rebecca Snukal has been a criminal defense attorney in Calgary for 18 years, but nothing could have prepared her as she experienced a different side of the legal system.

“After a difficult personal experience, I realized that there really is a kind of gap in terms of helping individuals with certain things in the court process,” Snukal said. “The court process has been and is sometimes a much more difficult process than we necessarily understand, especially when we work with it every day,”

She said some of the gaps she noticed are access to counseling and the ability to pay for counseling.

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“Reporting a crime and then pursuing it is often a lengthy court process and can be very difficult. We want to be able to support the brave families going through the process of domestic violence,” Snukal said.

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After realizing the loopholes in the system, Snukal responded by launching Franny’s Fund in 2021. Over the past year, she has helped raise money for local groups like HomeFront that help people experiencing domestic violence.

“Being able to support these individuals from the beginning of the indictment through the course of their affair as they progress through the justice system is critical,” said Maggie MacKillop, executive director of HomeFront.

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“Having funds available to support individuals, families and children coming through the justice system in times of crisis and hardship is absolutely critical, and that’s what Franny’s Fund will do.”

According to MacKillop, Franny’s Fund will support families in cases where they need specialized legal services, mental health and counseling that are not offered or made available to them by other resources.

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A victim’s siblings can also be traumatized by what happened, Franny’s Fund acknowledged.

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Snukal said her experience has taught her that help is out there, but the agencies that offer it can definitely use some help.

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“‘Difficult’ is the best way to put it. But it also showed me that there are some incredible frontline workers in our community. And it taught me the importance of the trial, but from a different angle,” Snukal said.

Tickets for Franny’s Fund’s first fundraiser on September 24th at The Nash are on sale now to raise money for two organizations helping victims of domestic crime: Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Center and HomeFront.

“Rebecca has a vision,” MacKillop said. “Passionate and with personal experience, she has identified a need and puts it into action to help others. HomeFront is grateful to be a part of it.”

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