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Kevin Chief     For a better community
by Kevin Chief  

A few days ago, I met with some friends who recently arrived from the Philippines and were settling into their new home in Winnipeg North. I was happy to tell their little ones that Halloween was around the corner and they could expect to gather treats from all the neighbours (an idea I think they enjoyed!). As a kid, I remember Halloween as a fun time to see who got the most candy, be amongst my neighbours and give my very best “Trick or Treat!” at the door.

This year, for many of our neighbours, Halloween is not going to be the same. In light of the recent shootings that have shaken our community, I’m not too sure if my new friends will be able to fully enjoy their first Halloween. It angers me that we find ourselves unable to feel safe walking in our own neighbourhoods. To me, this is just unacceptable.

There are traditions I know I want my baby son to enjoy as he grows older. All of these traditions, including Halloween, enjoy safety in community and togetherness. For my Filipino friends, I know that this sense of community goes well beyond what we know of in this life. You have told me that All Souls Day is especially important as you light a candle and offer a prayer in reverence for loved ones lost. So, what is it that we can learn from the recent deaths of two innocent men and the one youth who was injured by the acts of senseless violence? More than anything, right now, we must be able to come together as a community to support each other.

Safety, affordability, education, health and wellness are important issues in Winnipeg North. I believe that each issue is interconnected and the betterment of our community rests on strengthening our individual role to participate in each of these. For example, families need not compromise their health and wellness due to economic hardships; nor leave school in search of temporary economic stability; nor feel a loss of their own safety because another has turned to crime for other difficult reasons.

Safety has been a huge concern for our riding in the last few months. The programs I have worked with over the last decade have proven that a strong community can keep youth away from crime and offer a healthy alternative. We have all watched as our police officers work to keep our streets free from needless violence. For too long they have worked with too few resources and supports for them to address the root causes of crime. We need a comprehensive approach to address prevention, community supports, adequate policing and to ensure that there is strong enforcement of the laws that have been created to keep our communities safe.

Kevin Chief is the New Democratic Party Candidate for Winnipeg North Member of Parliament in the upcoming byelection on November 29, 2010.

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