When Nausheen Dhanda walks the halls of her Surrey school, the 16-year-old doesn’t know which of her peers will make it past 20.
“Recently my school, my second home, has been hit by an onslaught of fear and uncertainty,” she said.
Nausheen is a Grade 11 student at Tamanawis Secondary school in Newton, where a stabbing took the life of 18-year-old Mehakpreet Sethi on Nov. 22.
“And the person that (allegedly) killed him? Someone I would walk by in the halls. Someone my age,” she said. “And this isn’t the first or last time something like this will happen.”
A 17-year-old suspect has been arrested in Sethi’s killing. Police say they believe the suspect and Sethi knew each other and that they do not believe the fatal stabbing is tied to the Lower Mainland gang conflict.
Not wanting to see another youth fall victim to violence, Nausheen decided to be part of the change. She approached the KidsPlay Foundation, where she is a youth program co-ordinator, to help organize a forum.
The Drug and Gang Forum 2022 will be held Monday (Dec. 12) at 6 p.m. at Taj Park Convention Centre (8580 132 St.). The free event is open to the public, and no registration is required.
The forum aims to educate young people and their families about the dangers of drugs and gangs and will feature keynote speakers and youth who have been impacted by them.
Kiran Toor, president of KidsPlay Foundation, said the event is a chance for people to learn what is going on in their community and how they can prevent those around them from getting involved in drugs and gangs.
KidsPlay will also be offering sponsorships on the spot to students at the event.
KidsPlay Foundation started in Surrey in 2015 with the goal of keeping youth away from drugs, gangs and violence by offering different programs. The foundation organizes sports tournaments, conferences, and more.
Meanwhile, police are asking anyone with information about Sethi’s death to call IHIT at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) .
–With files from Beau Simpson