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Teamwork, education needed to tackle youth crime: forum MICHELLE NASH

Community members and the Police Services Board concluded education and community teamwork is vital when it comes to preventing youth crime in Ottawa. “We have heard you loud and clear. We will be making it out priority to work as a team to prevent youth crime,” said Eli El-Chantiry, chairman of the Police Services Board, at an open dialogue with the community on the subject of preventing youth crime as part of their community outreach and engagement strategy. At the event, held at City Hall on April 26, El-Chantiry explained the board wanted to hear from the communities to help build policies that work and reflect the needs of the communities. Guest speaker Hawa Mohamed, from

the Canadian Somali Mothers Association of Ottawa, told those gathered about how important education and the role of the community play in making a child stay away from crime. “Children have two places to rely on learning what is right and what is wrong –their parents and their school. And right now, there are no expectations in school for children to do better or work hard,” Mohamed said, adding she would like the gaps she feels exists in the school systems in low-income neighbourhoods to be addressed. “When there are no expectations, they can’t achieve to do better.” Mohamed also felt organized crime appeals to youth because it offers them acceptance and money. “Crime gives them things and lets them feel apart of things.” She said she would like education to


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reflect the needs of the community in which the schools are based. “When they don’t see anything good around where they live and there are no expectations in their schools, they can slip out of your hands,” Mohamed added. Amran Ali, another mother in the Canadian Somali Mothers Association of Ottawa spoke about how for their children, the school system seems to be failing them. “A community who is black, a community who is Somali, who is Muslim, who is poor – the school system is failing us,” Ali said. She added there are kids in Grade 8 who can not read past a Grade 2 level and believes this is an issue that falls onto the shoulders of the school system. “My core fundamental learning happened in the classroom and I want the police board to advocate for us.” The evening also included two other guest speakers, Imam Zijad Delic who spoke about the importance of engaging youth and Staff Sgt. Steven Bell from the Youth Intervention and Diversion Section. Delic said he also felt education needed to play a key role in prevention. “Besides parents, it is very much important to get engaged with the schools.” However, Delic felt the only way to combat youth crime was to work as a team and make the changes as a community. “If kids are ending up in jail, then we, as a community have missed an opportunity to do better for them.” During the open question period of the evening, the members of the public continually asked the Police Service Board and communities to work together in prevention of youth crime. Mohamed Sofa, a community health

File photo

Chairman of the Police Services Board Eli El-Chantiry, shown in an undated file photo, told members of the community gathered for a dialogue on youth crime the board heard the message loud and clear: teamwork is a must to tackle the problem. worker from Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, said to solve the problem of youth crime, dialogue is the most important piece to the puzzle. “I think there are issues happening on the ground in communities that are not being talked about,” said Sofa. “We have got to reach out to the communities and work together and then we will see success which can be duplicated across the city.” For Ali, she hopes that one day the dialogue will stop and the answers will come. “I hope one day change will happen. We need to talk about it now, but one day, we will stop talking and we will be able to see change.”

Province funds local campaign aimed at halting domestic violence EDDIE RWEMA

Women new to Canada who are in abusive relationships or at risk of abuse are set to benefit from a public education campaign provided by an Ottawa-based organization, the province announced last Friday. Immigrant Women Services Ottawa will receive $50,000 from the provincial government to provide culturally and linguistically sensitive training over the next 18 months to better reach immigrant and refugee populations in the Ottawa area. “This funding is aimed at helping curb domestic violence among members of our community, especially Muslim communities,” said Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi. The program is part of the provincial government’s Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign that aims to raise awareness about women abuse to new Canadians in Ottawa. The campaign helps people recognize the signs of violence against women, and know what actions to take in response. The campaign is part of Ontario’s domestic violence action plan, which focus-

es on prevention and better community support for abused woman and their children. “This campaign aims to empower people in our community to take action against domestic violence,” said Naqvi. “We need to work together to end woman abuse.” In a statement Laurel Broten, Ontario minister responsible for women’s issues, said the campaign is an important part of her government’s domestic violence action plan to prevent violence against women. “All women have the right to feel and be safe in their homes, communities and workplaces,” her statement said. The Ontario government is investing more than $668,000 to expand the Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign into immigrant and refugee communities across Ontario. It is currently delivered in over 200 communities across the province. “This project will create opportunities for us to train individuals to work with their community and develop partnerships to eliminate all forms of abuse against women,” Lucya Spencer, Executive Director Immigrant Women Services Ottawa said in a statement.

Ottawa This Week - East  

May 5, 2011