Ministry of Justice honours Kwantlen Polytechnic University research group for innovation in gang prevention

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Suzanne Anton presents Acting Together project director and principal investigator Dr. Gira Bhatt with a 2013 Crime Prevention and Community Safety Award for a community organization.

 

ACTING Together, a Community-University Research Alliance (AT-CURA) based out of Kwantlen Polytechnic University Surrey, was awarded with a 2013 Crime Prevention and Community Safety Award in Burnaby on Friday for its “outstanding contributions toward crime prevention and community safety.” Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton recognized AT-CURA for its ground-breaking work in developing projects that promote safer communities in the Lower Mainland The group is a federally-funded research project that addresses youth gang involvement, and has worked to engage youth groups, parents, teachers, service agencies and policy makers in a regional discussion about youth, gangs and risk prevention for the past four years.
 
The award was part of the Ministry of Justice’s annual crime prevention awards ceremony, which ran in conjunction with Crime Prevention Week: A province-wide initiative that encourages communities to participate in events that promote crime prevention strategies. Acting Together was nominated in the community organization category by Chief Officer Dan Malo of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-BC (CFSEU-BC), the province’s gang task force, and Balwant Sanghera, Chair of the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence.

 

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Dr. Gira Bhatt flanked by Dan Malo and Balwant Sanghera.

 
This award is an acknowledgement that blending academic expertise and community wisdom, with a focus on the strengths of our youth, provides a firm foundation for evidence-based gang-prevention strategies.  The award belongs to all the partners of the project who formed the collaborative network. Their dedication and commitment to work together as a team to create a safe future for our youth is truly inspiring.
 
In 2009, Acting Together was awarded a $1-million CURA grant through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to identify factors that prevent youth from engaging in violent and gang-related criminal activities. The group has brought together academic researchers from KPU, SFU, University of Victoria and Langara to work with 11 community agencies, including Surrey Schools, Surrey RCMP, City of Surrey, service agencies and media groups. This innovative approach maps the strengths of youth, as well as their beliefs about crimes, to assist Lower Mainland detachments and the CFSEU-BC in targeting their prevention strategies. To date, Acting Together has hosted 14 major community forums on gang prevention, including the Chris Mohan Memorial Youth Forum.
 
The project team is currently examining the strengths and crime beliefs of at-risk youth. They will be hosting a conference in July 2014 to engage academic researchers, service providers, police agents and policy makers to share their findings, programs and policy implementations.  For more information on Acting Together, visit: www.actingtogether.ca.