The issue of drugs and violence in the South Asian Community can be traced back to early 1990s when a number of disaffiliated youth started getting into trouble. So far we have lost a lot of our young to this menace. The community has been very concerned about this issue all along.
Our community efforts are focused on prevention leaving the intervention and enforcement to police and the courts. It has been trying very hard to address the issue of youth violence, drugs and gangs. A number of Gurdwaras and community organizations have been running excellent programs in this regard. There is no doubt that these efforts have made a big difference. However, still a lot more needs to be done in this regard. The current conflict between various groups going on in Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford is very unfortunate.
Both of these communities have a very large percentage of Indo-Canadians.
The community and police are doing everything within their means to tackle it. It appears the temptation for easy money; false sense of security and power as well as low self-esteem is too much for some youth to overcome. It is our sincere hope that eventually they will realize that this kind of dangerous life style is no way to make ones mark in life. Our community, along with police and other stakeholders, is fully determined to put a stop to it. In this context, it was very encouraging to see Kwantlen Polytechnic University team led by Dr. Gira Bhatt and Dr. Roger Tweed successfully apply for a grant from the Civil Forfeiture Award from the BC Ministry of Public Safety. It is a Strength based gang prevention programming for youth and families . It aims to empower youth and parents by focusing on their strengths, their positive traits and their leadership skills.
This project is a collaborative effort by the community, police and academia. All of the 8 interactive sessions were held at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib . Sixteen young people successfully completed eight sessions of the program. On Sunday, December 8, They were presented with Certificates of Excellence and prizes by Inspector Baltej Singh Dhillon , along with organizer Bhupinder Singh, Both ,inspector Dhillon and Bhupinder Singh gave very inspiring talk to the participants and their parents.
South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence Chairperson Balwant Sanghera also shared his thoughts with the attendees. He stressed the remarkable collaboration between community, police and academia in tackling the issue of gangs, drugs and violence. Sanghera also thanked Dr. Bhatt, Dr. Tweed and Mosaic’s Ninu Kang for their dedication and commitment in helping our youth.
Youth leaders Jagnoor Singh Mann and Ajeetpal Singh Gill spoke about their reflections of the program-the highlights,the fun moments and major take-away from the program. Dr. Gira Bhatt thanked the participants, organizers, youth leaders, support staff and parents for the for the success of this program. She mentioned that similar program will be run at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara (Scott Road) beginning on January 4.
All of these young people, organizers , parents and the Gurdwaras must be commended for their efforts. Initiatives like this go a long way in keeping our youth on the right track.