Wake Up Surrey launches three summer programs with school district, City, RCMP and Surrey Crime Prevention

Organizers Gurpreet Singh Sahota, Sukhi Sandhu and Harjit Singh Gill.
Photos by Vinnie Combow

WAKE Up Surrey, a grassroots movement developed by South Asian media in response to the gang violence in Surrey, on Thursday announced the launch of three summer programs in support with the Surrey School District, the City of Surrey, RCMP and Surrey Crime Prevention.

Gurpreet Singh Sahota, one of the Wake Up Surrey organizers, said: “Each of these pilot programs will be functional in the next few weeks and provide further resources for steering at-risk youth in the right direction. At the end of the day, we as parents understand the need to step forward, be a part of the solution and we hope these proactive announcements will demonstrate our commitment to join hands with existing stakeholders to reduce gang violence.”

Harjit Singh Gill, another organizer, explained: “Wake Up Surrey is a working group of parents and concerned citizens who are venturing on a new path. Our promise as sewadars (volunteers) is each of us has agreed to dedicate our time and energy for 1 year, $1, with no direct / indirect conflict of interest and no political ambition in an effort to help save our youth.”

Sukhi Sandhu, also an organizer, noted: “For the past many days, Wake Up Surrey has reached out to many stakeholders to collect data, host focus groups with many experts, identify gaps in the current programs and highlight areas whereby the South Asian community can assist in fostering more awareness and education. Our overall objective is to facilitate a long term sustainable framework and in the next few weeks, we will be unveiling our 1-year action plan which will clearly identified objectives and measurable targets which will be monitored and evaluated.”

On June 13, thousands of concerned citizens from all walks of life came together for the Wake Up Surrey rally to express their outrage on the recent killings of two youth and also provide solidarity in finding long term solutions for gang violence. Over the past 24 years, over 200 South Asian youth have lost their lives in the Metro Vancouver region due to gangland violence and numerous attempts have been made to find a solution, the organizers pointed out in a press statement.

“We fully understand there is no magic solution to the current crisis and our objective is to engage with stakeholders at all levels relying on accountability, transparency and collaboration,” they added.

The Programs:

  1. Project Seva:

The definition of Seva is “selfless service” or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment. As such, three local gurdwaras in collaboration with the Surrey School District Wrap Program will be providing langar (free kitchen) to the homeless three days a week.

  1. Youth Empowerment Mentoring Program:

Since the Wake-Up Surrey rally, a number of South Asian youth studying at Post Secondary Institutions have expressed a desire to be “agents of change” and lead a mentoring program this summer in collaboration with Surrey Wrap. Student mentorship programs can foster shared understanding and respect with at risk youth while providing positive role models in building self-esteem and trust.

  1. Community Safety and Student Mentorship Program:

Surrey Crime Prevention introduced the Community Safety Youth Leadership and Mentorship program in 2013 to support the needs of youth-at-risk and leadership students through partnerships with community partners in Surrey. This valuable program’s application for a Civil Forfeiture Crime Prevention and Remediation Grant was declined and upon learning of this, Wake Up Surrey has stepped forward to raise enough funds to ensure the program is not postponed in 2018.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said: “I commend the action that Wake Up Surrey has undertaken. Their suggestions and initiatives not only complement and align with the work of the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence, but they have also helped to galvanize the community into action.”

Karen Reid Sidhu, Executive Director with Surrey Crime Prevention Society, said: “Engaging youth in our City is key to their success and by offering youth opportunities to experience positive interactions with peers and community stakeholders is a definitely needed in Surrey. We offer youth an opportunity to make a difference through peer mentorship. Partnering with Wake Up Surrey will enable us to continue to support our youth who are the future of our City.”