HALIFAX â€“ Hundreds of crime prevention advocates, police, teachers and youth were together Wednesday, building positive relationships that support youth and prevent bullying and other crime.
Twenty Nova Scotians were also recognized for their commitment to making their communities safer at the fifth annual crime prevention symposium in Halifax.
"We have a responsibility to help young people make the right choices to avoid a life of crime and to understand what's driving poor decision-making," said Justice Minister Ross Landry. "That's what today is about. We need to work together to understand root causes of crime and help youth become contributing members of society."
This year's theme is Building Relationships - A Way Forward for Safer Communities. Participants will discuss building youth leadership capacity, the impact of cultural boundaries, the impact of bullying, building relationships with youth and the role of police, schools and others.
Manus Farmer is one of the youth presenters. He is a participant in the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development's Second Chance Program that uses entrepreneurship models to help youth in conflict with the law develop employability and life skills.
"I'm so pleased to be a part of this day," said Mr. Farmer. "It's nice to be treated as a person and not just a statistic."
Attendees are hearing about local success stories like Leave Out Violence Nova Scotia, a violence prevention and intervention program that works with youth who have experienced violence. Youth will also deliver workshops, and students from Ã‰cole John W. MacLeod Fleming Tower Elementary School will deliver an anti-bullying choir performance.
"I'm very pleased that young people have such a strong voice at this event, and that they are also hearing and seeing a big community of support ready to join with them," said Ramona Jennex, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. "This collaborative approach is at the heart of the province's Speak Up action plan, to work with young people, their families and communities so we can more effectively prevent bullying and other crime that can drastically change lives."
The symposium features academic experts and keynote speakers Brenda Morrison, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, and Nombuso Dlamini, York University, Toronto. Ms. Morrison is an expert on bullying and how schools can respond. Ms. Dlamini is an expert on the impact of culture on youth identity.
Mr. Landry presented the Minister's awards for Leadership in Crime Prevention during the symposium. Awards are presented to Nova Scotians in six categories who have been nominated for their outstanding work in preventing crime and making their communities a safer place. Fourteen individual awards and one group award are being presented.
Paul Ratchford, of Cape Breton Regional Police Service accepted an award on behalf of Rebecca Walker, volunteer co-ordinator at Clifford Street Community Centre in North Sydney.
"Speaking for Rebecca and other volunteers, the recognition is appreciated. It's not what they strive for, but it's very nice. and appreciated very much."
For more information on crime prevention initiatives and award recipients, visit www.gov.ns.ca/just.