Diverse communities strive for shared safety in Edmonton

Differences that usually keep marginalized Edmontonians apart, brought dozens together for a safety summit on Thursday.

'We can pool our resources together,' says youth worker at safety summit for marginalized communities

"As a police service, we're fortunate to be at the table," says EPS Insp. Dan Jones (right). (CBC)

Differences that usually keep marginalized Edmontonians apart brought dozens together for a safety summit on Thursday.

Representatives from various social and cultural groups met to discuss their shared safety issues.

"What we stand to gain by that is strength in working together, in networking, getting to know each other as neighbours because sometimes there are rifts in different communities," said Lise Robinson, one of the organizers.

Robinson, a social worker who works in 12 downtown communities, said Edmonton's marginalized groups, such as the Indigenous and Somali communities, face similar challenges despite cultural differences.
Representatives from dozens of Edmonton societies, ethnic communities and social agencies met Thursday to discuss their shared inner-city safety concerns. (CBC)

She helped organize a safety summit in April to unite a diverse team of Edmontonians with shared concerns, such as poverty and gang activity. On Thursday, the group reconvened for a second summit.

"It's very invigorating and exciting to see the people that are interested in working together," she said.

"We can really impact the community in a real critical way that is meaningful to them because it's them that are coming up with the solutions for their needs."

Sharing resources for common challenges

As a law enforcement officer, Insp. Dan Jones said crime occurs for the same reasons regardless of the offender's ethnicity.

"The factors are the same — sense of belonging, need to belong, financial constraints," he said.

"When you start to see that commonality among communities, it's really great to bring those communities together so they can work towards common goals."

Jones listened as Fatmeh Kalouti outlined what summit participants are doing to improve safety in their respective communities. 

It takes good hearts to actually make a difference.- Fatmeh Kalouti

Kalouti, a youth worker with the Boys and Girls Club, said she joined the summit to represent young people in Edmonton.

"It's nice and refreshing to see how passionate everybody is," she said about the safety summit. 

"It takes good hearts to actually make a difference."
Fatmeh Kalouti, a youth worker at Edmonton's Boys and Girls Club, participated in Thursday's safety summit to voice the concerns of young people. (CBC)

Kalouti said she's excited to work with others who are equally committed to improving safety in the city.

"We can pool our resources together," she said. 

"It is nice that we have this diversity in the type of people who have come together to do this and I think it ultimately represents our cause ... and represents everybody that we represent as well."

Thursday's participants signed up for one of four new safety committees: Business Safety, Child and Youth Focus, Social Issues and Research. 

They participants will continue to meet at future safety summits to share ideas and discuss their progress in making the city safer.