GURINDER Mann of Surrey, Executive Director at Communities Embracing Restorative Action (CERA) Society, and Richmond RCMP Constable Baljinder Kandola were among the five community leaders who received the 23rd annual Community Safety and Crime Prevention Awards that were held by a virtual ceremony this year.
The other recipients were Lianne Ritch of Vancouver, Dede Dacyk of Penticton and Sandra Bryce of Victoria, and the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre in Victoria.
“These award recipients and nominees demonstrate that we can make a real difference in the lives of those who have been impacted by crime, violence and victimization,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “On behalf of the government, I want to thank each recipient for their dedication and commitment in keeping our communities safe and helping survivors of crime.”
The awards acknowledge individuals, non-profit organizations, police and other local partners for their work in advancing crime prevention, restorative justice and other approaches that keep our communities safer. These efforts support provincial initiatives in policing, community safety and victim services.
“Each of the award recipients has shown an outstanding commitment to community, to care and to make our communities safer,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Their work has made a difference in the lives of British Columbians impacted by crimes, including survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I want to express my sincere gratitude for their efforts, for their trauma-informed and community-centred work and for all they have done to change lives in our province.”
The citation for Mann reads: “Winner of the Restorative Justice Memorial Award, Mann has been involved in the restorative justice community since he was a teenager. Beginning as a volunteer as a facilitator at Communities Embracing Restorative Action (CERA) Society, Mann became a board member and worked his way up to executive director in 2010, a position he still holds. His passion, leadership and dedication to justice have earned CERA considerable accomplishments during his tenure. Mann is known for being a remarkable leader, educator, reformer, advocate and active volunteer. His knowledge and skills in a vast range of areas have enabled him to make an outstanding contribution to restorative justice, crime prevention and public safety.
According to the CERA website: “Born and raised in England, Gurinder completed his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of British Columbia (UBC), followed by a Master’s degree in Applied Legal Studies at Simon Fraser University. His belief in restorative justice brought him to CERA in 2008, where he became a trained facilitator and later served on the Board of Directors, before becoming CERA’s Executive Director in 2010.
“Gurinder spent six years in the field of intelligence for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC (CFSEU-BC), formerly known as the Organized Crime Agency of BC. He is known for his excellence in the fields of justice, law, and crime prevention. His professional accomplishments have led to instructional assignments at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) and Douglas College.
“In addition to his proficiency in the justice and law enforcement arena, Gurinder is a specialist in the area of South Asian Studies. He possesses a second Master’s degree in Asian Studies and also serves as faculty at UBC.”
The citation for Kandola reads: “Winner of the Youth Leadership Award, Cst. Kandola found her passion in crime prevention and community policing early in her 19-year policing career. As co-ordinator of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program for the RCMP within Richmond schools, she has been instrumental in providing youth the tools they need to make healthy choices, including resistance strategies on how to deal with peer pressure and stress in a positive way. Since joining the DARE Society’s board of directors in 2016, Kandola has expanded her passion for education beyond schools, developing and implementing DARE initiatives and events within the community.”
Last year in May, The VOICE in an article titled “Why Richmond RCMP Constable Bal Kandola decided to go virtual with her DARE lessons,” wrote in part:
RICHMOND RCMP have taught DARE – Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program – to all Grade 5 students in Richmond for 25 years. However, the pandemic almost brought that to a halt.
Fortunately, thanks to the passion and commitment of DARE officer, Constable Bal Kandola, this tradition has continued.
When the announcement to keep schools closed was first made, Kandola was disappointed at the prospect of not being able to teach the DARE program for the final term of the school year. As she says, however, where there’s a will there’s a way.
Kandola reached out to the Richmond School District and offered to provide the program in a virtual format. Since then Kandola has set-up her classroom in the Detachment and started recording her lessons.
… The Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program is an internationally recognized drug prevention program. The keepin’ it REAL program is for Grade 5 and 6 students and consists of 10 weeks of lessons. The goal of the program is to guide youth towards making healthy choices, not only about drugs, but in all areas of their lives.
While she has had to adapt to having an empty classroom, Kandola is extremely happy that she is able to continue to provide this valuable program. “It’s been an adjustment to go online but I am so thankful that I’m able to reach my students,” says Constable Kandola. “I love teaching them so many great life lessons and giving them the tools which they can utilize in life.
As Kandola points out, however, the teaching is not a one-way street. “I have learned so much from my students. I speak to my students about having purpose and spirit in everything they do in life. I learned that lesson from one of my student’s years ago,” says Kandola. “In the DARE Program, we speak to students about believing in themselves and being confident. I had asked my students what confidence looked like. One student said that I was confident because I taught them with purpose and spirit. As a police officer, I took pride in that statement as it shows that you can still have passion, purpose and spirit in the job that you do even after 20 years as a police officer. What you put out there is received.”