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

Just Posted

Chilliwack mom gives back to Royal Columbian Hospital NICU with Christmas stocking drive

Ashley Durance is paying it forward to other families and their babies following daughter’s NICU stay

Wild Fishmas event in Chilliwack Sunday for salmon defence

It’s a fish-focused festive fundraiser Dec. 8 at the UFV Indigenous Student Gathering Place

Threats to the Fraser River at a ‘new zenith,’ says river conservationist

The ‘Heart of the Fraser’ should be deemed ecologically significant according to ORC statement

Fraser Valley Regional District administration/government costs set to rise by 18%

Mosquito control and fire dispatch costs also set for increase

Chilliwack passes budget bylaw with 3.32% tax increase

Policing and public safety remain the highest budget priorities for several years running

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: Rockslide closes Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

One of B.C’s last surviving strip clubs baring all again for Christmas charity

25th annual event is Sunday and raises money for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

Province ‘reinforcing’ new rules for party buses as holiday season approaches

Ministry reminds the public that it’s against the law to consume alcohol, cannabis inside a vehicle

Most Read