Eight municipalities's Police Officers and youth representatives of 10 gurdwaras joined Gang Prevention Summit II in Chilliwack RCMP facility
Surrey, Vancouver, July 20, 2015
The second Sikh Leadership and Law Enforcement Summit held in Chilliwack on July 7 and 8 this year was very productive. Representatives from more than eleven Metro Vancouver Gurdwaras, the RCMP, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-B.C. as well as police reps from Surrey, Delta, Richmond, Burnaby, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Mission took the time to get to-gether to discuss the issue of gangs, drugs and violence in our communities. The presence of academic researchers from Acting Together-Community University Research Alliance (AT-CURA) and the expertise of MOSAIC, a multilingual non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the issues of immigrants and refugees in Canada, made it a worthwhile experience for the attendees. The RCMP was kind enough to offer its impressive Pacific Region Training Centre facility for the retreat. Kwantlen’s team lead by Dr. Gira Bhatt and Dr. Roger Tweed provided crucial support, volunteers and other resources which contributed to the success of this forum. South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence (SACCAYV) was also an active participant in this process.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dan Malo gave a very comprehensive picture of the gangs and their activities in B.C. A/Commissioner Malo emphasized that the advances in technology have complicated matters for law enforcement agencies in dealing with gangsters and their accomplices. He assured the attendees that police at every level and jurisdiction are doing everything within its means to make and keep our communities safe. A/Commissioner Malo’s views were echoed by CFSEU-B.C. Chief Superintendent Kevin Hackett. C/Supt. Hackett stressed that CFSEU-BC, like other police forces and the community, is very concerned with the shootings in Surrey and is firmly committed to putting an end to it. Both A/Commissioner Malo and C/Supt. Hackett welcomed questions from the audience.
The interaction between A/Commissioner Malo, C/ Supt. Hackett, Sgt. Lindsey Houghton and the attendees was one of the major highlights of the retreat. All of these law enforcement officials were very forthright in their answers and explanations. It highlighted some of the difficulties facing police in dealing with organized crime and gangs. The result of this discussion was the understanding that there is a need for continued co-operation and collaboration between the police and the community. All of the police officers complimented the Sikh leadership and the South Asian community for taking the lead in addressing this issue. Initiatives like CFSEU-B.C.’s End Gang Life and the Understanding Youth and Gangs: A Parent Resource booklets are proving to be extremely helpful in this regard. Incidentally, it was reported that the Understanding Youth and Gangs: A Parent Resource is currently available in English, Punjabi, Cantonese, Arabic, Somali and Spanish. It has been so successful that CFSEU-B.C. is planning to translate it in many other languages and distribute it widely. Please e-mail CFSEU-BC for copies.
The Richmond RCMP team shared with the attendees a very impressive project: Difference Makers. This project was made possible with assistance from the Rick Hansen Foundation. The team consisted of leader Cpl.Kevin Krygier of the Richmond RCMP, his Auxiliary Constable Mike Dally and Rick Hansen Foundation’s Ewa Holender. This presentation was followed by two pilot projects at Gurdwara Sukh Sagar, New Westminster and Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran, Surrey. These projects were planned after the last Sikh Leadership and Law Enforcement Summit that took place in June 2013. It was an excellent example of collaboration between the two Gurdwaras, police, youth, parents and grandparents. Dr. Gira Bhatt and Dr. Roger Tweed shared findings from their academic research conducted as part of the AT-CURA Project at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. This Summit was again an excellent example of the Law Enforcement, Academic researchers and the community working to-gether in addressing the issue of gangs, drugs and youth violence in our community.
The event included an interactive workshop facilitated by Ninu Kang of MOSAIC. The participants were divided into groups and were encouraged to brainstorm solutions to the issue of youth and gangs. It gave everyone a chance to present their thoughts on the issues affecting our youth and suggest solutions. Each group shared their expertise with the entire audience.
The Summit is evidence of the police and community partnership. RCMP S/ Sergeant Baltej Dhillon, summed up these collective efforts of the community and police towards creating a better future for our youth and engaging them in meaningful practice to develop skills and courage and avoiding a life of criminality are more important than ever. The work continues and we look forward to build on our collective passion and energy for youth. This Summit was again an excellent example of the law enforcement, academic researchers and the community working together in addressing the issue of gangs, drugs and youth violence in our community.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist. He is the founding member and Chairperson of South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence)