Ex-gang member, now activist Amir Javid returned to Nak’azdli for a three-day workshop and seminar last week.
The event was part of a huge initiative by the Nak’azdli Alternate Justice Program to help educate the community about sexual exploitation, drugs and gangs.
Karla Olinek and Maria Riske were the driving forces behind the event, and were happy with the turnout on Tuesday and Wednesday, after a slower start on Monday.
“We just want to educate everybody and do the preventative thing,” said Olinek.
She was impressed with some of the youth participation, as some of the youth she said might not have gotten out of bed before midday on Spring Break normally, but were at the event from 9:30 a.m..
On Wednesday, Javid’s last day of presenting, there were around 120 people in attendance in Kwah Hall, from the very young to elders.
Youth from the entire area attended including Tache, Yekooche, Binche and Nak’azdli.
“He’s really engaging,” said Olinek.
Funded by a $25,000 grant Olinek and Riske applied for and received through the Ministry of Public Safety to help prevent gang involvement and sexual exploitation and to address human trafficking issues, the event included a week of activities related to education and prevention.
Javid was once again well-received by the community, and was gifted with a baby quilt and moccasins for his young daughter and an eagle feather.
He was also asked to give the blessing before lunch, and was clearly honoured by the community’s embrace of his message.
“Every time I have come here, it changed my life,” he said.
Javid presented for the entire time on different topics related to sexual exploitation, drugs and gangs, but hopes the community can go even further.
“With that awareness change happens, it’s inevitable,” he said.
After the general education, now Javid said the next step is to get the Heroes program by the Impact Society into the schools, which helps to build resiliency in youth.