THUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – The following nine individuals and groups are recipients of the inaugural Mayor’s Community Safety & Crime Prevention Awards, presented Monday evening by Tbaytel and the Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council at the Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall.
In a media release from the city it states, “The City of Thunder Bay has made community safety and crime prevention top priorities to enhance the quality of life for all residents. These recipients have shown outstanding effort that contributed to making Thunder Bay a safer place to live”.
“The awards are a way to promote the attitude and belief that crime prevention is each citizen’s responsibility and to celebrate our success stories,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs. “I want to congratulate each of the recipients on a job well done and I hope others will follow their example to make our city a safer place to live.” The awards are being held in conjunction with Ontario’s Crime Prevention Week.
2011 Award Recipients:
Community Hero Award – After seeing the effects of bullying on youth, Ellen Chambers fought for policy change to improve the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, two-spirited, queer and questioning (LGBTTQQ) students at Lakehead Public Schools. These students were experiencing homophobic bullying, harassment and physical violence. As a result of Ellen’s advocacy, each of the high schools within Lakehead Public Schools now have designated safe spaces for LGBTTQQ students, a Gay-Straight Alliance, and anti-homophobic training for all teachers and staff of Lakehead Public Schools. In recognition of her efforts, Ellen received the 2011 Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario President’s Award for making schools safer. Sponsor: The Simpson Street Business Improvement Area.
Business Award – In addition to commercial work, Thunderstone Pictures Inc. makes movies that document social justice issues in Northwestern Ontario. Michelle Derosier and Dave Clement have helped eliminate barriers between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people by openly portraying racism, suicide, mental illness and poverty. Their award-winning first film, Seeking Bimaadiziwiin, is still being used as a teaching tool by hospitals, healing centres, police forces and education institutions across North America. In 2009, Michelle and Dave were instrumental in the creation of the Biindigate Film Festival which increases awareness and understanding of the Aboriginal community. Their most recent film, The Life You Want, examines OxyContin addiction and the barriers people from remote communities face in getting treatment. Sponsor: Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund.
A great deal of the video in the recent CBC Documentary “From the Water’s Edge” shown on CBC’s fifth estate was shot by this engaging company.
Media Award – A safer Thunder Bay was the focus of the Common Ground Café hosted and moderated by CBC Radio. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants prepared and shared a meal together while discussing their concerns about community safety. The discussions demonstrated the different perceptions that people have about crime and solutions to crime, and showed that perspectives are often based on race. The discussions were aired locally and nationally, and the conversation has continued on a Facebook page under the same name. The CBC partnered with the Learning Café for a Conversation Café where the public was able to join the discussion. Reaction from the community has been so positive that CBC continues to get requests to moderate discussions. Sponsor: Shout Media.
Education Award – Education Officer Charlie Bishop and Principal Michelle Probizanski have been instrumental in introducing Restorative Practices to Lakehead Public Schools. Restorative Practices help repair the harm after a student misbehaves. This whole-school approach works with students to help them accept responsibility for their actions, build community, and separate the doer from the deed. The success of this approach has been immediately apparent. Students experienced more positive feelings about themselves and their classmates, plus their behavior improved. A pilot project at six schools resulted in a reduction in the amount of suspensions by nearly half. Teachers, staff and students are excited by the introduction of Restorative Practices. Lakehead Public Schools plans to implement the program in all schools. Sponsor: Métis Nation of Ontario.
Youth Leadership Award – Gurleen Chahal is a voice for young people as President of the Regional Multicultural Youth Council and as a member of the Crime Prevention Council. The Grade 12 student at Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate and Vocational Institute is learning firsthand about the problems in our community and providing information and leadership for youth on these key issues. Gurleen has delivered anti-bullying and discrimination workshops, has helped organize a conference about the effects of drugs, and is involved with the Girl Power empowerment program. Sponsor: Union Gas.
Enforcement Professional Award – Thunder Bay Police Sgt. Glenn Porter is often the first Police Officer our children meet in Thunder Bay. Sgt. Porter has instituted programs to help prepare children to safely ride the bus and cross the road. He always makes time when it comes to the safety of school children. His hands-on approach often brings him to schools where he meets the children, parents and teachers to emphasize his safety messages. He interacts with the children, engages them, gains their trust and always delivers a safety message that is understood. Sponsor: Apex Investigation & Security.
Outstanding Community Project Award – The John Howard Society’s Re-integration Services program provides transitional housing, healthy life skills and support to help clients find and maintain employment, and complete secondary school. Thanks to United Way funding and community donations, clients have an opportunity to address the factors that contribute to the involvement in criminal activity. Each year, the John Howard Society provides 200 people with a place to live, 30 people with assistance to complete high school, and connects 250 clients to needed services in the community. These programs and services provide critical and timely support to at-risk individuals by targeting the root causes of crime. Sponsor: The City of Thunder Bay.
Outstanding Community Project Award – The Neighbourhood Capacity Building Project supports seven Thunder Bay schools with a high proportion of Aboriginal students by providing daily nutritional services, mentorship and leadership programs, literacy activities, drum groups and girl power activities, through the Urban Aboriginal Strategy. The Project continues after hours with homework help, sports and games, and cultural teachings. The Project works toward eliminating child poverty by increasing the life skills of children and their families. Staff use programming to reconnect children with their culture and improve their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Sponsor: Wasaya Airways LP.
Outstanding Community Project Award – Dedicated to enhancing the capacities and strengths of the people in the Simpson-Ogden neighbourhood, Evergreen A United Neighbourhood has been proactive in identifying safety issues in the area and working to improve them. Led by Linda Bruins and the residents, this has included collaborating with the City on enhancements to Minnesota Park to create a neighbourhood hub. Activities include regular movie nights, sports activities for youth and skating. As well, residents credit the weekly Walking Night Club with making a big difference in how they feel in their neighbourhood. They say the walking club is a great way to get to know others in the community and has reduced fear of crime and social isolation. Sponsor: The Thunder Bay Police Services Board.
Each Outstanding Community Project received a $1,000 award from their sponsor to be used for future safety initiatives.