Communities make systems change

Posted on: November 23rd, 2016 By: Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane SchoemperlenAll of the calls to action already mentioned in the previous blog posts (humanizing people in prison & advocating for programs that work) help to create and strengthen system change in big and small ways. The work of larger structural change is long term, often slow work: Not for the faint of heart, but everyone can still play a role.

Here are a few ways you or your friends can contribute toward society and system changes.

  • Male Allies Against Sexual Violence – Through public education, the Male Allies program invites men and boys to be leaders in the work of ending gender-based violence. Their goal is to encourage critical introspection in men and boys, which begins by helping them to understand gender-based violence as a men’s issue. Over the past eight years, they have offered hundreds of workshops to thousands of men and boys and have just started a ground-breaking training initiative with the Ontario Hockey League.
  • Learn more about the root causes of crime. In order to prevent something, it’s important to understand the contributing factors. As a community, we have the responsibility to address these conditions which hinder healthy development and can lead to criminal behaviour.
  • Learn more about Smart on Crime approaches to addressing crime. Everyone has heard about tough on crime, but what about Smart on Crime? As a community, we can use language that shows we can build a community that is safe and vibrant for all people living in Waterloo Region.
  • Follow the advocacy work of Howard Sapers – Until recently, Howard Sapers was the Correctional Investigator of Canada responsible for the investigation of individual and systemic concerns. He was also a guest for a 2015 Friends of Crime Prevention event. On November 8, the Ontario Government appointed Mr. Sapers to be an independent advisor on corrections reform and to provide advice to the government on the use of segregation and ways to improve the province’s adult corrections system.

When we have people and community organizations working at all three areas of action to humanize people in prison and reduce stigma for loved ones, advocate for programs that work and enter into deeper levels of system and societal change, we can move the needle on progressive change.

If you decide to take some action, we would love to hear about it – 6 weeks from now, or 6 months from now! Get in touch with Juanita Metzger to share your story.

Advocate for programs that work

Posted on: November 23rd, 2016 By: Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane SchoemperlenInevitably, the Turn the Page book club discussions turned to the support provided to people in prison while they serve their sentences and the programs and support available during parole or upon release. Many people in attendance admitted to not knowing the reality facing people on the ‘inside’.

The past 5-7 years have seen a cut in federal funding to several prison support programs (inside and outside prisons) that have shown to be effective in reducing recidivism, building skills for reintegration and providing support to some of the most stigmatized prisoners, people who have sexually offended.

You might be interested in supporting these programs with a donation to keep them going. Or, as someone suggested at the book club event, you might want to write a letter to your Member of Parliament advocating for increased funding to support these valuable programs.

  • Lifeline provides support and transitional housing to men who have served a life sentence as they prepare for reintegration into our communities. Funding for this program was cut in 2012/2013. Some Lifeline programs are still offered through various St. Leonard Society organizations.
  • Circles of Support and Accountability is a Canadian-made restorative justice program for men and women who have committed serious sexual offences. CoSA allows the community to play a direct role in the restoration, reintegration, and risk management of people who are often seen with only fear and anger. COSA experienced the same severe federal funding cuts as Lifeline in 2014 and has spent a great deal of time figuring out how to support a nation-wide program of COSA chapters. They have even some sample letters already prepared which you could use to advocate for reinstated funding for COSA.
  • Prison farms have been a part of 6 federal prison institutions since the establishment of correctional facilities in Canada. They were defunded and closed by the federal government between 2009 – 2013. Prison farms provided beneficial employability and training opportunities, time management and responsibility skills, animal therapy, productive labour and physical exercise, access to nature, individual and team building work, and training in farm management and operation. There are many advocating for the return of prison farms as a prosocial training opportunity for inmates. Project Soil published an excellent case study of the prison farms at Frontenac and Pittsburgh Institutions, both Correctional Services of Canada facilities in Ontario.
  • Here is a 59 minute film about prison farms in Canada – Til the Cows Come Home.

If you’re super keen, someone suggested having a letter writing party – invite your friends, invite your neighbours!

There are certainly more prisoner support programs that are proven to work, but these three were discussion specifically at the event.

Also check out the call to action for humanizing people in prison and reducing stigma for families and loved ones and opportunities to be involved in systems and societal changes.

Ways to humanize people in prison & reduce the stigma of loved ones

Posted on: November 23rd, 2016 By: Juanita Metzger

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane SchoemperlenThe Turn the Page book club stimulated a great deal of discussion about the stigma. Society, in general, has a negative stigma against people that have been in prison and often their family member and children too.

People began to ask questions: How do we change this attitude in society and within ourselves? Given that we have a federal prison for women right here in Waterloo Region, how can we help within our own community? How can we get involved?

We’ve pulled together a range of potential ‘calls to action’ that help to humanize people in prison & reduce the stigma of loved ones. As Diane and the panelists reminded us, people in prison will leave prison when their sentences end and return to our communities. Reintegration to life on the ‘outside’ doesn’t happen by magic.

There are countless ways to be involved, likely more than we have to share, but here’s a start.

To start.. Read the Book! If you didn’t get a chance the first time around, it’s still available to borrow at KPL, WPL and Cambridge or get it for sale at Wordsworth Books in Waterloo. We developed a reading guide that might be helpful for checking some of your assumptions and thinking broadly about this issues Diane challenges us with.

If you have a book club, get them to read the book too! We’ve even created a handy Reading Guide to accompany the book.

One of the best ways to start in this area is to work directly with or support the organizations that work with inmates and their families.

  • STRIDE is a program of Community Justice Initiatives. STRIDE helps women in prison build informal networks of support that assist them as they reintegrate back to the community. They also prepare the community to receive them safely and supportively. CJI has several other programs that offer support to offenders.
  • John Howard Society Waterloo-Wellington offers diverse prevention, diversion, intervention and educational services for children, youth and adults who are in conflict with the law or at risk of getting there.
  • Elizabeth Fry Society for Kitchener Waterloo provides gender-specific services, support and advocacy for women within the community, involved in a judicial process or who are serving sentences at Grand Valley Institution for Women, a federal prison for women located in Kitchener.
  • Volunteer at Grand Valley Institution – The Correctional Service of Canada has a volunteer program that works directly with recreational activities, classroom and workshop instruction, and cultural or chaplaincy activities and supports families of offenders or helping released offenders re-adjust to life.

These are all very different volunteer opportunities and if you are very interested, best to do the research and find the best fit for you and your interests. You might discover that you prefer a community based approach rather than a formal institutional setting.

Check out the ‘calls to action’ related to advocating for programs that work and creating system change.

Prisons, Justice and Love: Turn the Page Book Club hosted by Friends of Crime Prevention

Posted on: November 16th, 2016 By: Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

When you host a public book club, you just never know how things will unfold, much less when you host one with the title “Prisons, Justice and Love”! But we couldn’t have had a more engaging night if we had tried!

Friends of Crime Prevention were pleased to host the first ever “Turn the Page” Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen in November 2016. Scroll through the photos below for a short photo essay of the evening together with community partners, neighbours and Friends.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

This is not my life by Diane Schoemperlen – our first book club selection for the Turn the Page Book Club focused on prisons, justice and love. A very entangled combination!

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

Friends of Crime Prevention, Jenn Robinson (middle) and Lisa Armstrong (right) were the most friendly greeters! Great to see so many new faces.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

As people gathered for the evening, Friends of Crime Prevention had the opportunity to let us know why they are a Friend. Jeanean Thomas – because I care about my community

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

As people gathered for the evening, Friends of Crime Prevention had the opportunity to let us know why they are a Friend.
Pari Karem – Why not?!

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

Thanks to John and Wordsworth Books for bringing extra copies of Diane’s book for sale!

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

The inaugural Turn the Page Book Club was held at Fresh Ground, a new cafe & community space developed by The Working Centre.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

48 people gather to hear Diane read from her new book “This is Not My Life: A Memoir of Love, Prison, and other Complications.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

Diane reads the first line of the her book, a first line she is quite proud of! You’ll have to read the book to find out why this line still makes her laugh! Or listen to her interview with The Current on CBC Radio where the host reads it out loud.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

Diane reading some of the more emotionally challenging parts from her book.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

People came prepared! Many had read the book and had very insightful questions. Others came because of the topic, but bought the book by the end of the night!

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

In addition to a talk and reading by Diane, we invited additional panel members from the community & beyond to complement the discussion of prisons, justice, stigma and relationships. From left: Mike Farwell, Moderator; Diane Schoemperlen, Author; Jen Hutton, Women’s Crisis Services Waterloo Region, Shannon Moroney, Author of Through the Glass; Chris Cowie, ED Community Justice Initiatives

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

A very intent and listening audience!

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

Chris Cowie from Community Justice Initiatives shared about the agency’s Restorative Justice mandate and how a more restorative process in prisons could help in countless ways i.e. better integration into society upon release, deeper understanding of the nature of offending, development of new skills to deal with conflict. Teaching and using restorative justice early can also be a prevention tool.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

With all the new faces in the audience, it was a great opportunity for many to learn about w hat it means to be a Friend of Crime Prevention!

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

It only take a few minutes to become a Friend of Crime Prevention – just like Jen Hutton!

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

Both Diane and Shannon took time to sign books for anyone who wanted. Also a chance for great conversations.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

Diane and Shannon proudly display their “I am a Friend” buttons. Diane and Shannon were made honorary Friends and join Howard Sapers and Sir Neville, a guide dog, as Honorary Friends of Crime Prevention.

Turn the Page Book Club with Diane Schoemperlen

It was very special to have Shannon and Dianne together in the same evening. Shannon acted as a mentor to Diane during the writing of This is Not My Life. Shannon wrote her book Through the Glass about the life upheaval after husband confessed to the sexual assault and kidnapping of two women. Both Diane and Shannon have rich stories from which our community can learn so much! Diane and Shannon are pictured with Sarah Anderson, event organizer and facilitator from the Crime Prevention Council.

Human Library ‘Books’ to Check Out at Friends of Crime Prevention

Posted on: November 3rd, 2015 By: Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

As we put the finishing touches on the Friends of Crime Prevention Human Library event, we wanted to share some of the human ‘books’ and ‘library subjects’ you will find that day! Such a rich diversity of experience, knowledge and community change! You will have to use your time wisely to visit even three of these fantastic books.

On poverty/inequality:

On problematic substance use:

On neighbourhood environments:

On family environments:

On mental health:

On housing: 

On youth support & engagement:

What a collection!

Friday November 13, 2015
School of Social Work, Lyle Hallman Building
120 Duke Street West, Kitchener

(paid parking available at Kitchener City Hall. Entrance on Young Street, just across the street from the School of Social Work)

9:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Join us at 8:30 a.m. for our famous coffee social!

 

Friends of Crime Prevention Human Library: The Root Causes of Crime Edition

Posted on: October 31st, 2015 By: Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

If you had the chance…. What questions would you ask from long time community leaders and pioneers in the field of crime prevention in Waterloo Region?

Don’t miss your opportunity with the Friends of Crime Prevention Root Causes of Crime Human Library!

Friday November 13, 2015
School of Social Work, Lyle Hallman Building
120 Duke Street West, Kitchener

9:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Join us at 8:30 a.m. for our famous coffee social!

Preview the list of “subjects” you can check out at the event – what a collection!


This year, 2015, marks the 20th Anniversary of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention and 20 years of prevention-based thinking about crime prevention through social development.

At our Friends of Crime Prevention event on Friday November 13th, we take a look back at how we and our community have evolved, adapted and lead the way for change on the root causes of crime as a community in Waterloo Region.

In 1996, WRCPC developed The Root Causes of Crime statement as a way to promote a better understanding of the root causes, as complex and interrelated as they are. Earlier this year, WRCPC consulted with our community to guide the development of our 2015 – 2018 strategic plan. We learned that people generally understand the root causes of crime and victimization – which is amazing! The conditions we knew to contribute to crime 20 years ago were identified again today as priority root cause areas in need of focused attention. These include:

  • poverty/inequality
  • problematic substance use
  • neighbourhood environments
  • family environments
  • mental health
  • lack of housing
  • lack of supports & engagement for youth

Join your fellow Friends of Crime Prevention for this chance to ‘check out’ and ask questions of our ‘human library books’. Find out what is happening in our community to address these root cause issues, what organizations are involved in the work, what the issues and solutions might be and discover potential opportunities for Friends to get involved!

For more information, contact:
Juanita Metzger 519.575.4400 ext. 3548

From one who knows: Reflection on Prevention, Prisons & Popcorn with Howard Sapers

Posted on: September 16th, 2015 By: Juanita Metzger

One of the most anticipated highlights of our year happened last week. In case you happened to  miss it (?!) – although, I’m not sure how you could – Howard Sapers was in town. Yes, THE Howard Sapers. Federal Correctional Investigator for Canada and ombudsman for federally sentenced offenders.

We partnered with Kitchener Public Library as part of their new 85 Queen Speaker Series to host this event and filled the auditorium with 230 people from our community. The action packed evening included a screening of the film “State of Incarceration”, a keynote address by Howard Sapers and a panel discussion with community members, including a formerly incarcerated woman from Grand Valley Institution for Women.

We have a video coming soon of Mr. Sapers’ keynote talk, but in the meantime, you can read his presentation here to catch all the incredible stats and stories he shared that night. He really does effectively paint a vivid picture about the state of Canadian prisons in 2015.

While you wait impatiently for the video, I”ll leave you with these two reflections from two currently incarcerated women from Grand Valley Institution for Women who attend the event. You’ll understand why it was such a big night.

Julie writes:

“I attended the forum for Friends of Crime Prevention, on September 10, 2015.  I cannot begin to tell you how refreshing it is that discussions such as this are taking place. I was both shocked and pleasantly surprised at the amount of progressive people who attended the forum.  There are faces and lives associated with the disturbing statistics Mr. Saper spoke of – mine is one of them.  I was one of two currently incarcerated women at the event, with the Walls to Bridges Collective. Too often incarcerated people are treated as the rejects of society, disposable even, and let’s face it – advocating for us is not at the top of almost all priority lists.  I firmly believe that many incarcerated people would not be in the criminal justice system to begin with, if they had been afforded access to and utilized stronger and earlier preventative measures through social intervention and more accessible social and health services; myself included.  Sadly, I did not consider the flaws in our systems until I was directly affected. Now that I am, however, I cannot turn a blind eye to them anymore, not just for myself, but for the staggering amount of other people making up those statistics, and for those yet to come.  I am relieved to know I am not alone in this quest.  All human life has value – thank you for making “out of sight” not be “out of mind” anymore. The forum helped to humanize us and highlight some of the injustices of our daily reality. I left with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. I am thankful that this forum created a safe place for people to come together, ask questions, and push boundaries. To evoke much needed change will require more bridges to be built than walls. We have a long way to go, but I am hopeful that just as a storm starts with a single raindrop, so too does change start with forums such as this one.”

Denise writes:

Just as the world will always remember September 11, 2001, in a negative light, Thursday, September 10, 2015 will be etched in my mind for as long as I exist as an achievement to social awareness.  You see, since my incarceration it was the only day in which I came in contact with people besides volunteers and members of the Walls to Bridges group and voice my dilemma while feeling safe to bare my soul.  Mr. Howard Sapers provided statistics that were both daunting and hopeful. Information on how tax dollars are truly spent to build and house a growing prison population at a time where the crime rate for the past decade plus has been on the decline. I am part of those statistics and Canada is following the footsteps of the failed American system that ex President Bill Clinton and present sitting President Barak Obama stated ‘is not working’. The large majority of incarcerated people will be released and upon their discharge, are expected to function and contribute to the same society that deemed them as criminals. If education is at least a gateway to success, incarcerated people need more training to learn and utilize skills and tools required to help them successfully add to the fabric of society’s fast paced, ever changing existence. Prevention, Prisons & Popcorn at Kitchen Public Library was a forum that brought together a community of progressive thinking people aware of the challenges society will surely be faced with once the voiceless, faceless people are unconstrained. An awareness of prisons and the need for community inclusion upon the release of prisoners are part of an encompassing subject tax payers don’t realize every member of a community may be accountable for.  After someone goes from inmate to civilian because they have paid their dues to a faulty justice system and they no longer live in the past where they made poor choices, when do they get a fair shot at being seen in a new light? There needs to be more discussions such as the one Prevention, Prisons & Popcorn opened up where communities are aware of their interconnectedness to their surroundings, even their walled surroundings.

Yep, it was that kind of night.

Serving Time: Six months with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

Posted on: June 19th, 2014 By: Smart on Crime

Prior to my Master of Social Work student placement at the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council (WRCPC) in January of 2014 I had very little, if any, knowledge of the concept of ‘the root causes of crime’. I knew quite a bit about human development, that we are all products of our past experiences, and it was pretty clear that crime is likewise a result of countless influences; it is so much more than ‘bad people’ doing ‘bad things’. What we do and how we decide to act is dictated by all of the tiny events that make up our lives be they happy or sad, wonderful or traumatic, important or seemingly insignificant. The WRCPC addresses these root causes, this infinite web of experiences and events, to help prevent crime before it occurs.

So it sounds pretty simple right? Address the causes before they lead to trouble, is it really that revolutionary? After spending the past six months with this team I can say with conviction that yes, yes it is! There are so few organizations that dedicate their time and effort solely to the prevention of crime and the study of root causes of criminal activity. If you don’t believe me try to search ‘crime prevention’ or ‘root causes of crime’ in any major search engine and not find something about the WRCPC on the first page. Working with this organization has opened my eyes and, to borrow their phrase, I have a better understanding of how to be ‘smart on crime’. Now it is far easier for me to consider the whole picture rather than simply looking at the end result. Because crime is so complex and intricate, it requires equal complexity and intricacy in order to effectively address it.

If you will, I would like to share with you my understanding of what the WRCPC really is. Rather than explaining the organizational chart of the WRCPC, which, I am by no means an expert, this is a map of my experiences with the WRCPC. Becausethe majority of the work that the WRCPC does involves providing support, information, and networking opportunities for other human service organizations in the Region, they rarely get the chance to advertise the fantastic work that they do.

The following image is an embodiment of my experiences at the WRCPC. These are the things that I directly witnessed or had a role in completing during my stay and I am sure that I didn’t get it all.

Ryan's Mind Map

Ryan’s Mind Map to illustrate how he understands crime prevention through social development.

The six staff members are the very foundation of the council, providing the nourishment and support that is needed to complete this vast array of work. Each member plays a significant role and sustains an entire branch of ‘crime prevention’. Christiane Sadeler is the bridge between the staff and the council itself (a body of impassioned community members representing the human services sectors throughout the Region). With this sturdy foundation of staff and council members all of the tremendous work is completed. From academic research to community engagement the WRCPC addresses ‘crime prevention’ from all angles.

It has been such a pleasure to work within this jumbled group. I have learned so much and had the pleasure of working with such meaningful and impactful projects. If you have never had the opportunity to work with crime prevention or just want to know more about what it means do what I did; become a Friend of Crime Prevention. Let’s attend a meeting and have a real discussion about the ways we can make our Region stronger, healthier, and happier. There is always more that can be done and my journey is nowhere near complete.


Author: Ryan Maharaj, MSW Student with WRCPC. Ryan recently moved to Waterloo in pursuit of his Masters in Social Work at Wilfird Laurier University. Placed at the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, he has been given the opportunity to explore the role of male allies in the movement against sexual and intimate partner violence. He firmly believes that with respect, support, compassion, and education we can prevent the occurrences of sexual violence in the next generation.

 

The new story continues….

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 By: Smart on Crime

As a Friend of Crime Prevention, I believe that the heart of crime prevention is through social and community development…..

As an educator, I was used to being at the front of a group of students or a group of fellow educators. Now being retired, my role as changed, I am continuing on my learning journey, but now as a student or fellow participant in the learning. My learning now is focused on developing a new understanding of community and what needs to be done to build a community of belonging for all residents of the Region of Waterloo.

As a Friend of Crime Prevention, I attended on the morning of February 8th, “What Community Means, a Waterloo Region Community Gathering” at K-W YWCA Mary’s Place Community Room, in downtown Kitchener. This event was led by the New Story Group, the Kitchener-Waterloo Social Planning Council, the Festival of Neighbourhood’s, the Multicultural Cinema Club and the Abrahamic Peace Builders.

The keynote speaker was Derek Alton, of the 1000 Conversations project. 1000 Conversations is a project of Tamarack, a charity that develops and supports learning communities that help people to collaborate, co-generate knowledge and achieve collective impact on complex community issues. The deep hope of Tamarack is to end poverty in Canada.

The pilot phase of the 1000 Conversation campaign started in Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Halton and Hamilton, and the second phase Tamarack is looking to partner with 10 new local hosts across Canada who are interested in bringing this campaign to their communities.

Some of my key learnings from this Community Gathering dealt with:

  • How technology is changing how we approach community
  • The shifting expectations of Community – how the experience of seniors and youth compare
  • The Dark Sides of Community

The discussion on “The Dark Sides of Community” for me was especially enlightening, as I have been focusing much of my efforts with the inclusion work of the City of Kitchener Safe and Healthy Community Advisory Committee on building bridges to inclusion in our community. The “Dark Sides of Community” refers to the feeling of individuals being left out of their community because “they did not fit the mold” or that they could not be their “true selves”, so because of this, community can be experienced as a very judgemental and exclusive place for some. But, clear boundaries can preserve the integrity of a group, so no community can be all things for all people. The key learning here is that community is complicated and messy, and that it is important to not ignore this but rather to seek to understand it.

My view of community is evolving, in my previous blog post, I talked about the New Story Group and their efforts to write a new story about belonging and community. Community for me is many things. For thirty years as an educator my community was very focused on my work and family. Now that I am retired I have been expanding my horizons. My work community is still part of my world, but not the main part. Community is many things, my family, my poker group, my circle of friends, the people at the various places and organizations that I am now volunteering at. Community can be anywhere, and can involve anyone, the only thing is some connection. Connections, the web that builds is what links community together for me. I am amazed at the connections that I see when I do something in my community. It is by leveraging these connections that we can work together to improve our community and make it a place where everyone feels that they belong.

I do believe that many small actions will add up to a large action on the road to building a community of belonging. It can be as simple as acknowledging the presence of a homeless person in downtown Kitchener, they are part of our community, a friendly smile goes a long way in making a person feel like they belong. In less than two months since my last blog post, I have become a member at large on the Forest Heights Community Association Board of Directors, with the desire to continue writing a new story of belonging in my community.

I challenge you to do something to make our community a community of belonging, smile at a stranger, volunteer somewhere in your community, it will make a difference, it will connect you!

 



Blog Author Photo: Doug McKluskyAuthor: Doug McKlusky
was born in Ottawa but is a long time resident of Waterloo Region including his university days. Doug recently retired from 30 years with the Waterloo Region District School Board. Doug was co-chair of the inREACH Street Gang Prevention Project until it closed in December 2013. But in his newly retired days, time has very quickly filled with important work such as Out of the Cold, Nutrition for Learning, Forest Heights Community Association and the Safe & Healthy Community Advisory Committee for the City of Kitchener. And, wisely, Doug connects all his work to being an all-around ambassador for Friends of Crime Prevention – it really is about connection.

Doug McKlusky‘s writing reflects his own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views or official positions of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.

 

How I became a Friend of Crime Prevention… In 15 Easy Steps!

Posted on: March 13th, 2014 By: Smart on Crime

The Friends of Crime Prevention network is a space for active members of the community to come together and discuss their ideas of crime prevention. The network aims to bridge individuals and organizations in the common goal of increasing social justice and action for a safe community in which we all live.

This may look great on paper but we really have to ask ourselves: Do these network meetings actually make a difference? Do people really contact one-to-one outside of the meeting rooms? Can talking actually make a difference? Is it more than just the free food, drinks, and give-aways!?

I have personally had the pleasure of becoming part of this network of proactive individuals and it has opened up a new world of action and community engagement! These meetings helped my career, allowed me to form a stronger professional network, and brought a number of important issues to my attention. Here is how I became involved as a Friend of Crime Prevention:

  1. Student attends the Wilfrid Laurier Masters of Social Work program
  2. Student meets professor
  3. Professor recommends Friends of Crime Prevention meeting
  4. Student attends meeting and mentions interest in preventing sexual violence
  5. Student is introduced to MAASV (Male Allies Against Sexual Violence) Public Education Facilitator. Meeting ends
  6. Student contacts MAASV facilitator for a meeting
  7. Student and facilitator host MAASV seminar at Laurier Faculty of Social Work
  8. Student begins to attend MAASV meetings
  9. Student receives placement with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council
  10. Student writes quiz  for intimate partner violence (IPV), among many other worthwhile projects
  11. Student invited to IPV meeting at Conestoga College
  12. Student forms network with college and MAASV
  13. Student’s resume is very happy
  14. Student writes about his path to becoming a Friend.
  15. Reader reads in astonishment and attends next Friends of Crime Prevention meeting!

Are you a Friend of Crime Prevention? Do you have a story to tell about how you got involved in crime prevention through social development? Add your story in the comments below.


Author: Ryan Maharaj, MSW Student with WRCPC. Ryan recently moved to Waterloo in pursuit of his Masters in Social Work at Laurier University. Placed at the Crime Prevention Council, he has been given the opportunity to explore the role of male allies in the movement against sexual and intimate partner violence. He firmly believes that with respect, support, compassion, and education we can prevent the occurrences of sexual violence in the next generation.