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Youth gang prevention key to stopping Metro Vancouver violence: expert

A spate of daylight, gang-related shootings on the Lower Mainland have highlighted how urgent it is to prevent young people from being lured into the lifestyle, according to the founder of the KidsPlay Foundation.

Kal Dosanjh, a former law enforcement officer whose organization works on preventing gang involvement, says recent killings in the region follow a familiar pattern.

While Saturday’s shooting outside of the Scottsdale Centre in North Delta has not yet been linked to the ongoing gang conflict, Dosanjh says a murder last month outside Cardero’s restaurant in Vancouver seems to have triggered a rash of deadly violence.

There’s been multiple homicides subsequent thereafter, whether this one’s specifically related to that or not needs to be determined, but nonetheless these sort of things are gonna happen where the activity might die down for the next couple of months but then it’ll pick up again,” Dosanjh explains.

“What’s definitely going on is if you traditionally take a look at the historical narrative, there’s always going to be peaks and valleys in relation to gang and drug violence, but especially when you topple a high upper-tier figure within a gang, there’s going to be repercussions and a ripple effect of that.”

The victim of the Cardero’s shooting was identified as 31-year-old Harpreet Singh Dhaliwal, and investigators said he has known ties to the Brothers Keepers gang.Three days later, another man was gunned down in broad daylight outside of the Langley Sportsplex. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team identified him as Todd Gouwenberg, a 46 year old former mixed martial artist who had links to the United Nations gang. That same week,  Another man was killed at a Coquitlam park, and police also described that shooting as targeted, but did not link it to gangs.

Dosanjh says he’s confident police are making headway on these investigations, but he understands why people in Metro Vancouver are worried and frightened.

“So anytime we’re dealing with these gangsters that do not care about public safety, and are constantly engaging in street-level violence, there is no regard for anybody else’s safety and it’s all going to be about territorialism and maintaining their power throughout this, when these power vacuums are created, when one of your peers IS taken down,” he says.

“Law enforcement doing its job but with respect to public safety and the general public having regard for this. Essentially what’s it’s going to come down to is being aware of your surroundings but also education and awareness for youth to keep them out of that trajectory in the first place.”

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Joint action — across sectors and jurisdictions — is what Dosanjh thinks is urgently needed, saying the work of prevention

“It’s been tremendously difficult and challenging because everyone is operating within their compartmentalized silos. Law enforcement is doing its own thing, school districts are doing its own thing non-profits are doing another thing it’s gonna come down to one big concerted effort where we all work together in unison if we’re going to resolve this issue.”

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