It's not often that you hear terms like "violence" and "hope" describing the same event but a conference scheduled in the community next week fits the bill.
The third annual Partnering in Hope conference will be held April 12 to 14. The conference addresses the prevention of and response to family violence through sustainable community action planning.
"This year our focus is on gang prevention and intervention," said Jenny Schwab, co-ordinator of Battlefords Victim Services, who serves on the conference committee along with representatives from the RCMP, Battlefords and Area Sexual Assault Centre, Battlefords Interval House, Catholic Family Services, Concern for Youth and Battlefords Tribal Council Indian Health.
The focus on gangs is in response to a demand for greater education about how to respond to those who have been affected by gang violence, said Schwab, adding there's a close relationship between gang violence and family violence - gang members and those around them are often victims of family violence, and gang violence contributes to cycles of family violence.
Gang influence is a growing issue in the Battlefords area, according to Cst. Jill Kingdon with the RCMP.
"We do have a gang presence in the community, or a great gang influence is maybe a better word. It's province-wide," she said.
Kingdon is hoping the conference will raise awareness about what the situation is and equip and inspire participants to address gang-related issues in their communities.
That's exactly the aim of the conference -- education and action, said Schwab. At the end of the conference, participants will have the opportunity to put together a community action plan to be implemented through the co-operation of local agencies.
The Partnering in Hope conference targets those who work in the human services field in areas such as corrections and social work, helping people who have experienced family violence.
This year about 120 people are expected to attend, mostly from the Battlefords area. Attendance is down about 40 per cent from last year, which Schwab attributes to challenges in nailing down speakers.
"But we still have great speakers," she said.
Speakers this year include Dr. Mark Totten, who holds a masters degree in social work and a Ph.D in sociology and has done extensive research on gang intervention and prevention and representatives from Warrior Spirit Walking, a Prince Albert based program run by ex-gang members who educate youth about how not to get involved in gangs.
The Partnering in Hope conference is sponsored by the federal government and the Battlefords United Way and held in conjunction with National Victims of Crime Awareness Week April 10 to 16.
Concerned citizens are invited to embark on an awareness walk Monday, starting at the RCMP detachment at 5 p.m. to recognize people in this community who have been affected by crime.
"This year's theme is Many Voices, Many Paths. Although victims have many different experiences, they're not alone," said Schwab.