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Alone in the Dark – Why the Majority of Domestic Violence Cases Go Unreported

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Makeup covers up the bruises and wounds on her face. She wears sweaters and long-sleeved blouses to hide the trauma on her body. When confronted with the abuse, she blames herself, or makes excuses for her partner. Unreported, the cycle repeats once more.

It’s this fact that scares Dr. Balbir Gurm.

A nursing instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and an expert on domestic violence, Dr. Balbir Gurm is a dedicated women’s advocate. Lately, Dr. Gurm’s crusade has been how the clear majority of domestic violence cases have gone unreported in British Columbia, and how to combat it.

“It could be as low as seven per cent of victims who report,” said Dr. Gurm. “It’s impossible to know what the reality really is.”

Dr. Gurm is also the founder of the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR) campaign. NEVR’s mission statement is to “lead initiatives to intervene, reduce and ultimately eliminate the incidence of violence in relationships and shift societal norms that condone its prevalence.” NEVR succeeds in this endeavor through awareness and educational campaigns which combat an issue that often hides itself away in the dark.

The co-chair of NEVR, and former police chief of the Delta Police Department, Jim Cessford said that the inspiration for founding NEVR was simply that “we needed to create the awareness to and to get out in front of this relationship violence.”

According to Cessford, the percentage of reported DV (domestic violence) cases in B.C. has decreased in recent years. However, while it’s possible that this is because cases are being under reported, he is cautiously optimistic that an increased number of educational campaigns are having an effect.

Dr. Gurm said, “One of the elements of intimate partner violence that was revealed in our research is that very few victims of intimate partner violence disclose it, and those who do are met with family, friends, and even field professionals who don’t understand the risks associated with intimate partner violence, or what to say and do to help the victim.”

It’s this uncertainty and lack of awareness that perpetuates an atmosphere of victim blaming and ignoring one of societies biggest crises.

It’s education that both Dr. Gurm and Cessford say can break this turbulent cycle.

One of the most powerful tools in NEVR’s arsenal are their toolkits. Developed by the KPU Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program students, overseen by Dr. Gurm, and in collaboration with Cessford and various other agencies, this Community Champions Toolkit is designed to bring domestic violence to the forefront of public thought. The toolkits have been developed for people working in health care, to beauty salons and bars. It teaches ordinary people how to recognize the signs of DV, and seek professional assistance.

The B.C. Coroners Service Death Review Panel, of whom Dr. Gurm belongs to, recently released their report investigating the deaths of 100 people who were killed by domestic violence between 2010 – 2015. The panel consists of individuals from education, health, justice, advocacy, and public safety backgrounds.

According to the report, every year in B.C. 13,000 individuals seek police help to stop physical/emotional abuse at the hands of a spouse or significant other. Each year, 30,000 women and children (who’ve been affected by DV) are aided by outreach programs and counselling in British Columbia. The statistics show that fewer than one-third of DV cases are reported to the police, and on average, 232 women were admitted into hospitals for severe injuries sustained during an attack by their partners.

However, the report also brings to light another important statistic that is often overlooked; the panel discovered that 78% of DV victims are women, but also that 22% of victims are men. This statistic is important in the battle against domestic violence because, while most victims are women, a significant percentage are also men. It shatters stereotypes of how men can’t be victims of abuse, because often, they are bullied and humiliated into silence.

The coroner’s report also stated how “Few victims reach out to disclose IPV [intimate partner violence], and those that do disclose may be met with family, friends and even professionals who don’t yet understand the risk and what to say or do to help.” This finding carries into the B.C. Coroner’s Service first recommendation for combating domestic violence: education.

NEVR also takes the unprecedented measure of not only providing support to the victim, but also to the offender. Some of the people who attend are mandated by the courts to attend counselling sessions, while others go voluntarily. Some of these offenders come to see the error in their ways, but others, wonder why the “police had to get involved.” As Jim Cessford said, it’s simply because they’re committing a criminal act. It’s the intercepting of a DV case at all stages and persons involved that Cessford hopes will prove, “There is somebody listening…somebody does care.”

“Well what was she thinking?” This question is often asked when a news story about DV breaks, and the victim is publicly interrogated and blamed for not having left her abuser. “It’s all about power and control,” said Cessford. Victims are also threatened into silence; the abuser may threaten to kill them, their children, or even the family pet. DV victims also fear that their abuser may go to prison, and therefore worry about breaking up their family, or even their subsequent financial situation. Cessford recalled a DV victim in Edmonton who was caught in this situation and simply asked, “Who would support us financially? Where would we go?” The victim is often shuffled from one hopeless situation into another.

Because of this aspect, and of the potentially intrusive nature of a police investigation, many victims do not report their abuse. Statistics show that that a person can be victimized as many as 33 times before calling the police. They often go to an agency and ask for help first, before contacting the police. Only when a situation becomes violent and precarious do the police finally get involved. “The police need to get involved much earlier than that,” said Cessford.

Cessford wants us to be vigilant, and to recognize the signs of domestic violence. Some of these warning signs include: unusual bruising, cuts to the face, unexplained injuries (in which they might excuse it and say “I fell.”), the victims appearing distressed or emotional, and having a lack of confidence. In addition to these warnings signs is “the fear in the victim’s eyes.” Cessford said that this can be most prevalent while the abuser is present. Something as simple as asking the victim (in a safe setting), “Is everything okay?” can be the first step in breaking this traumatic cycle.

“They’re going through hell, and for them to know that someone cares…is so important,” said Cessford. “Domestic abuse will not be tolerated.”

Victims of domestic violence have the right to love, and be loved. To go through this world without constant fear of physical or emotional abuse at the hands of another human being. It’s with the assistance of people like Dr. Balbir Gurm, Jim Cessford, and awareness campaigns like NEVR that these women and men can hopefully one day emerge out the shadows. A quote on the NEVR Facebook page reminds us to always keep one thing in mind: “I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her.”

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, or whose life is in immediate danger, please call 911. You can contact NEVR at (604) 807-7210, or the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence at (250) 356-9808.

Ashley is a third-year journalism student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, BC, having completed her first two years at the University of Saskatchewan. Ashley has moved eight times across Canada, living coast-to-coast, and therefore has become an avid traveler and quiet observer of the world around her. With her digital camera and audio recorder always at the ready, she is passionate about journalism and writing, and believes that everyone has a story worth telling. She also loves to shoot photos, socialize, (drink wine), and explore. Ashley dreams of becoming a broadcast journalist, and ventured out to Vancouver in pursuit of that dream. Vancouver is her Pacific playground.

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UBC is building a new three-acre campus near Surrey Memorial Hospital

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Surrey Memorial Hospital via BC Gov Photos

The University of British Columbia (UBC) has acquired a $70-million property close to Surrey Memorial Hospital for a new three-acre campus.

The new Surrey UBC campus will sit at the intersection of King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway, a 135,000-square-foot plot of land which is currently the Grace Hanin Community Church. This is an ideal location for the post-secondary institution given it is close to SkyTrain and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

UBC has a very strong representation of the Fraser Valley. There are nearly 3,500 students, 750 faculty and staff, and thousands of alumni who live in Surrey.

In addition, with a strong grip on health education, more than 4,900 health student and medical resident rotations take place in hospitals, primary care settings and clinics across the Fraser Valley.

“This is an excellent investment by UBC and will help thousands of students from Surrey and south of the Fraser get access to valuable post-secondary education in an accessible and transit-friendly location,” says Randeep Sarai, MP for Surrey Centre.

UBC’s strategic plan includes developing its presence regionally as well as improving access to post-secondary education in the Fraser region.

“We look forward to working with the City of Surrey, Fraser Health, First Nations Health Authority and regional partners to uncover the many exciting possibilities that this new project holds for the Surrey community and Fraser Valley, as well as UBC students, faculty and staff,” says Santa J. Ono, UBC President and Vice-Chancellor.

Consultations with UBC and the Surrey and Fraser Valley communities will begin next year.

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Surrey City Centre SkyTrain Extension Delayed

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Image via @jmv / Flickr

If you weren’t aware, there is an extension planned for the Expo line SkyTrain along Fraser Highway from King George Station in Surrey City Centre to Langley Centre.

This expansion would be 16 kilometres in length. It was originally planned to be completed in 2025, however residents will have to wait longer — three full years in fact — as the extension is now expected to be completed in 2028.

Why The Delay?

TransLink planned to complete the first 7 km of the expansion from funding that has now been cancelled. This $1.6 billion of funding was needed to reach the 2025 completion date. Additionally, the original date was pending a business case approval that was scheduled for the summer of 2020. Since neither happened, procurement of a contractor did not occur.

A contractor should have been procured by early 2021 to start construction early 2022. Hence the delays.

To give some scope, the entire project is estimated to be a $3.96 billion cost. Earlier this summer, the federal government announced $1.3 billion to help move the project along. This funding has not yet been formalized. The remaining $2.65 billion would be committed by the provincial government and TransLink.

Worth The Wait?

By 2028, the Expo and Millennium lines will grow to a combined fleet size of 427 cars. Specifically there will be 30 additional cars to serve the Surrey-Langley Extension.

The Surrey City Centre to Langley SkyTrain extension will increase the size of the network by 24%, it will be growing from 66 km to 82 km. This will add 8 new stations into the network from Surrey to Langley.

This means that, when open, there will be a capacity of 6,800 passengers per hour per direction. It also allows for room for growth, so the system can grow with the population and need. When the expansion is complete, its capacity will be more than 10 times the existing bus services along Fraser Highway.

Commuting time will also be cut down. The new travel time of the extended Expo line is expected to be 25 minutes faster than the existing buses. It will also serve those coming into Surrey. With no transfers, getting from Waterfront station in downtown to 166 Street Station in Fleetwood will take under an hour.

The Future is Bright

Once complete the extension will allow for easier access into Surrey Centre and Langley. Ridership is expected to grow in the area, even suggesting that there may be 62,000 daily passengers by the year 2035.

Needless to say, Surrey Centre in coming years will be getting more traffic without the traffic congestion.

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Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers’ Top 10 “Least-Wanted Valentines” For 2021

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ACTUALLY, IT’S NOT SO GREAT BEING “WANTED” ON VALENTINE’S DAY

HERE ARE METRO VANCOUVER CRIME STOPPERS’ TOP 10 “LEAST-WANTED VALENTINES” FOR 2021

Rewards up to $100,000 are offered for some of BC’s most wanted fugitives

VANCOUVER, B.C.: From the files at Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, here’s our annual list of the top 10 “most wanted” criminals and suspects who remain on the lam this Valentine’s Day. They could be far away, or in your neighbourhood.

(See below list of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers’ 10 Least Wanted Valentines. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of these individuals is asked to please contact Crime Stoppers anonymously. Your anonymity is guaranteed by the Supreme Court of Canada. You’ll never be questioned or called to testify.)

Tips to Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and charge of any wanted criminal can lead to a reward of up to $5,000. For three of this year’s most wanted, Crime Stoppers has partnered with the national BOLO (Be On the Look Out) Program to make available extra large rewards of $50,000 to $100,000.

“Some of these fugitives have been missing a year or even longer, and with four million pairs of eyes around the province, someone should eventually spot one of them,” says Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.

“Tips work. We received more than 5,000 anonymous tips in 2020 leading to 72 arrests and 135 charges laid. 21 off those arrests came from tips specifically about gang or illegal gun activity.”

Conor D’MONTE | WANTED FOR MURDER

$100,000 reward offered by Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers and BOLO Program

AGE: 43 , Height: 6’1” (185cm) , Weight: 201lbs (91kg) , Hair: Black , Eyes: Brown

Marks: Asian characters tattoo on right shoulder, “Conrock” tattoo on left shoulder, tiger & dragon tattoo on left upper back, left eye piercing

John Norman MACKENZIE | WANTED FOR BEING UNLAWFULLY AT LARGE

$50,000 reward offered by Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers and BOLO Program

AGE: 60 , Height: 5’9” (175cm) , Weight: 196lbs (89kg) , Hair: Gray/Brown , Eyes: Blue

Cong DINH | WANTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING

$50,000 reward offered by Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers and BOLO Program

AGE: 34 , Height: 5’6” (168cm) , Weight: 132lbs (60kg) , Hair: Black , Eyes: Brown

Ryan EASTON | WANTED FOR ASSAULT, POSSESSION OF A WEAPON FOR DANGEROUS PURPOSE, BREACH OF RELEASE ORDER

AGE: 44 , Height: 5’44” (180cm) , Weight: 175lbs (79kg) , Hair: Brown-Gray , Eyes: Brown

Naseem MOHAMMED | WANTED FOR BEING UNLAWFULLY AT LARGE, RESISTING/OBSTRUCTING POLICE/BREACH OF RELEASE ORDER, DRIVING WHILE PROHIBITED

AGE: 22 , Height: 5’5” (165cm) , Weight: 122lbs (55kg) , Hair: Black , Eyes: Brown

Jeremy David MORGAN | WANTED FOR ROBBERY, USE OF AN IMITATION FIREARM TO COMMIT A CRIME, POSSESSION OF A LOADED RESTRICTED FIREARM, BREACH OF PROBATION.

AGE: 33 , Height: 6’1” (185cm) , Weight: 170lbs (77kg) , Hair: Brown , Eyes: Blue

Roderick MUCHIKEKWANAPE | WANTED FOR FIRST DEGREE MURDER

AGE: 42 , Height: 6’0” (182cm) , Weight: 217lbs (98kg) , Hair: Black , Eyes: Brown

Skyrose JAWBONE | WANTED FOR ROBBERY, UTTER THREAT TO CAUSE DEATH/HARM, FAIL TO COMPLY WITH PROBATION ORDER.

AGE: 39 , Height: 5’11” (180cm) , Weight: 230lbs (104kg) , Hair: Brown , Eyes: Brown

Tattoos: Upper back – middle: lotus flower and left leg: rose

Trevor SMITHEN | WANTED FOR FORCIBLE  CONFINEMENT AND ASSAULT CAUSING BODILY HARM

AGE: 37 , Height: 5’11” (180cm) , Weight: 181lbs (82kg) , Hair: Black , Eyes: Brown

Tattoos: Right Forearm – T.R.U.M (truly real unique man), Left Forearm – 4 1 5, Right Upper Arm – Drama faces, M.O.B – Hated by Many, Loved by Few

Jordan WEIBE | WANTED FOR BREAK AND ENTER, COMMIT INDICTABLE OFFENCE AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH PROBATION.

AGE: 32 , Height: 5’10” (177cm) , Weight: 150lbs (68kg) , Hair: Brown , Eyes: Hazel

About Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is a non-profit society and registered charity that offers rewards for anonymous tip information about criminal activity and provides it to investigators in the communities of Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Anonymous tips may be provided though Crime Stoppers’ downloadable “P3” app for Apple and Android phones, calling Crime Stoppers at 1-855-448-8477 (new number) or 1-800-222- 8477, online at solvecrime.ca, or by following the link on the Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers Facebook page.

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers accepts tips in 115 different languages and will pay a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of a criminal, recovery of stolen property, seizure of illegal drugs or guns or denial of a fraudulent insurance claim.

Tipsters stay anonymous by using code numbers to check back later and collect their rewards. Find MVCS on Twitter: @solvecrime.

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La Niña Could Mean A Dangerous Winter For Drivers, Here’s How To Reduce The Risk

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Plan ahead for safe driving in winter conditions

In many parts of the province, drivers are beginning to experience winter conditions and snowfall on the roads. With the forecast of La Niña, a climate phenomenon that results in abnormally cooler temperatures, B.C. is set to experience a colder and wetter winter than previous years.

The Winter Driving Safety Alliance is urging motorists, workers and employers to prepare for winter driving conditions with its annual Shift into Winter campaign.

All B.C. drivers—and employers with workers who drive for business purposes – need to prepare for the winter months ahead. Winter driving conditions can be dangerous across the province – from rain and fog, to snow and ice. Even the most experienced drivers are challenged by cold temperatures, slippery roads, and reduced visibility.

In B.C., the average number of crashes where someone is killed or injured due to ‘driving too fast for the conditions’ more than doubles from fall to early winter—on average from 99 in September to 220 in December. Further, 28 percent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time-loss claims occur in November, December, and January.

The Shift into Winter website provides information for drivers on how best to prepare for winter driving as well as information for employers around planning, implementing, and monitoring a winter driving safety program. Employers and supervisors can access an online course and use resources provided in the employer toolkit – which includes a sample winter driving safety policy, recommended procedures, and customizable templates. In addition, an online quiz tests drivers’ and employers’ knowledge.

The Alliance encourages drivers and employers to adhere to these tips to stay safe on the road this winter:

  • Plan ahead and check the current road and weather conditions on DriveBC.ca.
  • Install a set of four matched winter tires with the 3-peaked mountain/snowflake symbol.
  • Give your vehicle a pre-season maintenance check-up.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
  • Slow down – the posted speed limit is the maximum speed under ideal driving conditions. Reduce your speed below the speed limit and drive with extra care.
  • Maintain a safe following distance – look ahead and keep at least four seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Invest in winter driving training – learn how to brake safely, get out of a skid, and become familiar with how your vehicle handles in winter weather.
  • Register and attend a free webinar to learn about practical B.C. driving tips.

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees who drive for work, regardless of whether they drive a company-owned or personal vehicle. ShiftIntoWinter.ca provides information and resources that can help reduce the risks employees face when driving during winter.

Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC | “Most employers in B.C. have workers that drive for work—whether full time like truck or taxi drivers, or as part of their job like sales people, community health nurses, or trades workers. Employers should start preparing now by accessing resources through the Shift into Winter website to ensure their workers have the information and tools they need to drive safely this winter.”

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Crime Stoppers “MOST WANTED – MUGSHOTS”

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Crime Stoppers “MOST WANTED” is a weekly fan out service based on information provided by police investigators who need public assistance in making our communities safer by identifying individuals involved in committing crimes.

If you have any information regarding the individuals listed here, please contact Crime Stoppers anonymously. You could be eligible for a reward of up to $2000 upon arrest and charge. You will never be asked your name or have to appear in court.

Subject: 1

Name: JOHNSTON, Brock Daniel
Age: 40
Height: 5’10” (170 cm)
Weight: 160lbs (72 kg)
Hair: Bald
Eyes: Blue
Wanted: *Canada Wide * Bank Robbery and Sex Assault .
Tattoos: *Right upper arm “cat”,* Chest “Death before “Dishonor”
Warrant in Effect: June 17th, 2020
Jurisdiction: Vancouver Parole

Subject: 2

Name: MACLEOD, Christopher
Age: 34
Height: 5’10″ (177 cm)
Weight: 1681bs (76 kg)
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Hazel
Wanted: *Canada Wide* Break Enter and Commit – Theft Under (x17), Break Enter with Intent (x3), and Mischief in Relation to Property
Tattoos: *Left Hand – “FUCK IT WERE 10, CM”, On fingers, Cross, Diamond, Chest – RT Side – Devils Head, LT Side – “MOM” Right Upper Arm – Grim Reaper/Skulls
Warrant in Effect: June 17, 2020
Jurisdiction: Vancouver Parole

Subject: 3

Name: SERSON, Stuart
Age: 39
Height: 5’6” (170 cm)
Weight: 176lbs (80 kg)
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Brown
Wanted: *Canada Wide*.Robbery – Use Firearm All Others, Possession of Property Obtained by Crime – Under, Fail To Comply with Probation Order, Mischief in Relation to Other Property,
Tattoos: *RIGHTER UPPER ARM “Warrier” Tribal art, LEFT SHOULDER- “Scarface” ,- NECK- Chinese symbol “81”, LEFT FOREARM- Dragan
Warrant in Effect: June 17th, 2020
Jurisdiction: New West Parole

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