August 13, 2014 11:02 am

Edmonton police program aims to build Aboriginal youth leaders

Watch above: A pilot project launched by Edmonton police aims to empower Aboriginal youth. It’s all about creating a culturally inclusive environment, but recent numbers suggest when it comes to diversity police services across the country still have a long ways to go. Shallima Maharaj reports.

EDMONTON – Edmonton police are offering a new program aimed at inspiring Aboriginal youth to be leaders in their communities.

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The four day pilot project is called Aboriginal Youth Police Academy. The program provides police officers and Aboriginal youth a platform to discuss issues and learn how to build safer communities.

“This academy has brought together so many community members and organizations in partnership with the EPS, and we hope that this spirit of community continues on in the hearts and actions of police members and youth participants in the future,” says Andrea Levey, EPS Aboriginal Relations Coordinator.

Edmonton has the second largest urban Aboriginal population in Canada, with about half of the Aboriginal population under 25 years of age.

“Our urban Aboriginal youth are constantly trying to walk in two worlds – keeping up with what is needed to function in everyday society, and still trying to stay connected to their culture,” says Sherry Fowler, Team Leader with Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.

“This program will give them one more tool to help them move forward in a way that will honour their journeys.”

About 30 youth are participating in this week’s four day program. They’ll receive training in leadership development, attend educational sessions, and get a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a police recruit.

The pilot project is modelled after the Edmonton Police Service Youth and Citizen Police Academies.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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