A recent virtual gathering brought together youth and their families with RCMP employees and other mentors, to showcase youth projects, including several videos, posters and activities completed.
The Saskatchewan RCMP hosted the virtual camp with the Youth Advisory Committee June 30 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Committee members, including youth and mentors, have been working together over the past year to build relationships and address youth crime and victim issues in Saskatchewan.
The Youth Advisory Committee met virtually each week throughout the school year. Youth members participated in virtual activities, co-chaired meetings, initiated projects and heard from guest speakers on topics such as disinformation and misinformation, fentanyl, gangs, relationship violence and the youth criminal justice system. Commitment involved a minimum of six hours a month and to create and implement a project addressing a youth crime or a victim issue of their choice.
“This was an opportunity to celebrate all of the hard work, creativity and dedication of our Youth Advisory Committee members in working with the RCMP to promote community safety and well-being,” says Laili Yazdani, community program officer with the Crime Prevention/Crime Reduction Unit in Saskatoon and provincial co-ordinator for the committee.
“Many youth participated in several projects over the past year to help address a range of topics, including interpersonal violence, online exploitation, cyber bullying, gangs, racism and hate-motivated crime and incidents, mental health and distracted driving.”
Yazdani says committee participants have all come a long way, learning together.
“It has been an incredible experience listening to youth perspectives and working together to bring their ideas to life,”
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore attended the virtual camp and shared praise and encouragement after the youth presented their projects. As the commanding officer for the Saskatchewan RCMP, Blackmore says, “This is an excellent initiative which allows some very bright and inspirational Saskatchewan youth to build relationships with the RCMP.
“Most importantly, we have an opportunity to hear from these youth who offer their opinions and perspective on policing issues. After listening to the final presentations from these youth participants, I am very confident the province will be in great hands as these youth become the leaders of tomorrow.”
Each youth received a certificate that acknowledges volunteer service hours completed, which is signed by the commanding officer.
Pesim Searson is a Lac La Ronge Indian Band member who co-chaired a meeting on wildlife management and poaching and created a video addressing alcohol use with support from La Ronge RCMP Constable Kaitlin Moore.
“I really enjoyed working with the YAC this year and felt I have learned a lot of good knowledge and experience for future situations,” Pesim says.
“In the coming years, I hopemore youth can learnabout today’s problems by the joining the Youth Advisory Committee.”
Alex Northcott co-chaired a meeting on mental health and worked with Anicah Poynting and North Battleford RCMP Constable and School Resource Officer Laura Cockrum to deliver a disability awareness project for a school in North Battleford.
“Being a part of the Youth Advisory Committee was a one-of-a-kind experience. As someone who aspires to be an RCMP officer in the future, I greatly enjoyed my entire experience,” Alex says.
“The environment created was kind, accepting, educational and optimistic. I learned so many new things and techniques that can be used to prevent youth crime in my community.”
As a mentor in Swift Current, Rebecca Anderson attended weekly meetings, worked with youth on a video project and assisted others in co-chairing meetings.
“When I first joined the Youth Advisory Committee as a mentor, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some of my experiences and knowledge. Was I ever wrong!” says Anderson, who is the settlement worker in schools with the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre.
“This group of youth ended up teaching me. I was continually impressed with their knowledge and skills. It was so amazing to hear about their individual interests and learn from them. The growth from start to finish was a remarkable thing to witness and I am so honoured to have been part of it.”
Chinaza Enyinnaya-Okidi is a youth member in Regina who co-chaired a meeting on online schooling and worked on several video projects with committee members addressing distracted driving, speeding, racism and hate-motivated crime and interpersonal violence. She says that the committee provided “an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to my community by participating in different projects aimed to increase awareness on issues affecting youth. For every meeting, I looked forward to the check-ins and particularly enjoyed the exciting debates. Being a member of the YAC has transformed me.”
Angie Merasty, director of operations of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, served as a mentor for the committee.
“The time I spent mentoring the youth from across the province on the RCMP Youth Advisory Committee has been inspiring,” Merasty says.
“The youth were engaged, they were involved, they asked questions and I could see a real growth from when we had our first meeting to the last meeting where the youth hosted the virtual camp. I believe the learning went both ways and I really enjoyed my time as a mentor. Bravo to everyone involved in this endeavour.”