Young Edmontonians bring voices to police commission
Youth Action Project lays out four recommendations to empower marginalized youth.
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The Youth Action Project brought four recommendations to the Edmonton Police Commission Thursday that aim to break down barriers between police and marginalized youth.
The recommendations came from the group’s justice initiative, launched last fall, which saw 16-to-28-year-olds discuss their personal experiences within the justice system and meet regularly with community advocates and police officers.
“My experience tells me that young people have the solutions to community problems. They cut through all of the crap to really get to the root and the heart of the issue,” said Maigan van der Giessen, education co-ordinator with the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, which initiated the project.
Among the recommendations, van der Giessen stressed it is important for the police commission to give a voice to people with lived experience of poverty and criminalization.
“People from diverse communities and backgrounds need to see themselves represented there so that they can build that trust,” she said.
“Because right now what we do know is that there’s not a lot of trust with vulnerable and marginalized communities and police. And we need to find ways to bridge that and start to build that.”
YAP member Mohamed Rahall, 21, said he has a friend who stopped driving because police pulled him over so many times.
He pointed out the police commission is almost entirely white, and said various ethnic communities need to be represented so the struggles of their communities can be understood.
“I have friends who have had negative experiences with the police, and I think it’s important that we communicate these experiences with the Edmonton Police Service to make sure that they’re connecting with the community and making it more inclusive,” Rahall said.
1. That EPS launch a story-sharing campaign for officers to share their mental health experiences, to humanize police, improve their own health on the job and confront “societal and institutional stigmas.”
2. That the Alberta government include an investigation of justice in the high school curriculum, so they can learn their rights and responsibilities within the criminal justice system and how to self advocate.
3. That the Edmonton Police Commission and city council ensure people with lived experience of poverty and criminalization have a voice on the commission.
4. That the Alberta government reaffirm its commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action – especially No. 30, which aims to eliminate the over-representation of Indigenous people in custody over the next decade – partly by funding restorative justice practices like youth-centred sentencing circles.