From left

Walk for Peace through Chilliwack on election day

They're fed up with gangs and drug-fuelled violence. The first ever Walk for Peace will hit downtown Chilliwack on Nov. 19.

They’re fed up with gangs and drug-fuelled violence.

Organizers of the first ever Walk for Peace said they’ll hit the streets of downtown Chilliwack on Nov. 19.

“We are symbolically taking responsibility to take back our community,” said Skwah Chief Robert Combes. “We are tired of all the activities involving drugs and gangs.

“We want to stop it — or at least slow it down.”

Starting from Five Corners at 11 a.m. with a few speakers addressing the crowd first, the marchers will then head down Wellington Avenue to Skwah First Nation.

The goal is to do “whatever” it takes to put a stop to the engrained problem of booze, drugs and crime, the chief said. It has created parasitic relationships and wrecked lives, but the problem is larger than one small reserve can handle, he said.

The Walk for Peace is a continuation of the annual Walk for Sobriety event, organized by Skwah First Nation members. The marchers would sometimes stop along the walk to identify sources of neighbourhood problems.

“Everyone is invited to join the walk,” said Combes, which is being held on election day, Saturday, Nov. 19, to send politicians a clear message. The date also coincides with National Addictions Awareness Week.

This year City of Chilliwack was approached to broaden the scope of the Walk for Peace, and city officials quickly accepted the invitation to participate.

“We are all aware that these issues are not limited to aboriginal communities,” said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “We have hope of a life absent from drugs and violence and the devastating effects they have on all of us.”

The walk has also been bolstered by support from other First Nations, RCMP, Fraser Health Authority, Salvation Army, and many more businesses, groups and service agencies.

“This is an opportunity to make people aware of a need, and once that need is identified by the general public, then we’ll be able to fix it,” said Austin Underwood, who helped organize the Walk for Peace. “It’s been incredible to see this come together. Everyone has come on board and thinks it’s a good idea.”

All it took was for someone to ask for help, he said.

Underwood is a job developer with Triangle Community Resources, and it was one of his clients who reached out to him with real-life horror stories of violence and intimidation inflicted by organized crime and fuelled by addiction. Elders and families were living in fear, doors locked and blinds closed to what was going on.

“A lot of the negative influences were coming from a criminal element from outside the community,” Underwood said. “It creates a toxic environment that the community then has to live with.”

The example being set by Skwah with the Walk for Peace, and its desire to clean up the community, might eventually be used as a template to positively impact other communities across Canada.

“They’re letting the world know they don’t want to play this game anymore,” he said.

For more details about the Walk for Peace call Underwood at 604-792-8000 or Beth Williams at 604-799-7726.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/CHWKjourno

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

Chilliwack River Road just north of Promontory will see partial road closure

The northbound lane of Chilliwack River Road will be closed Sept. 29 and Sept. 30

COVID-19 cases at Chilliwack schools will be communicated via Fraser Health

Leaked internal memo causes confusion among parents and others worried about potential exposure

Sardis Neighbourhood Plan is ready in draft form for feedback

Survey online until Oct. 9 will take comments from the public on how Sardis will grow

Fall outdoor burning season cancelled in Chilliwack

Council decided to cancel outdoor burning because of pandemic air quality concerns

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

Racist, homophobic graffiti prominent in downtown Maple Ridge

City councillors up late removing hateful message

Reincarnation, baby! Music-making B.C. couple celebrate ‘miracle’ pregnancy

‘I (said) to Adam, ‘I really think this is your brother reincarnated,’ Elise Estrada says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Most Read