The message that gang violence is not welcome in Surrey was clear Monday evening (Dec. 14) as families filled Grand Taj Banquet Hall to take part in a community forum on gang awareness.
The two-hour forum consisted of presentations by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – B.C.’s anti-gang police agency – and former gang member Jordan Buna, as well as speeches from a variety of local politicians, including Surrey-Tynehead MLA Amrik Virk, Fleetwood-Port Kells MP Ken Hardie and Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal.
Speaking in Punjabi to a largely South Asian crowd, Surrey-Centre MP Randeep Sarai said the community needs to change its attitude towards the gang lifestyle, with families and friends sending a strong message that it’s not acceptable.
“We have to disassociate from those who are involved in gangs, and violence, and drug dealing. Once we disassociate from them, they won’t feel as accepted,” said Sarai. “We have to create a bit of distance.”
Virk, a former member of the RCMP, agreed.
“When the community steps up and says no to violence, that is the key,” he said. “There’s no magic solution, no magic elixir, no magic number. It’s when you as a community stand together.”
The forum was student-led and organized by members of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), who are working towards eliminating violence by creating community awareness.
“SAVE’s mission is to eliminate all forms of violence in youth and to bring them up in a more positive and healthy environment,” said SAVE member Deepinder Dhot. “We are the youth of today, and the leaders of tomorrow, and we need to eliminate violence.”
To learn about SAVE’s initiatives, visit nationalsave.ca