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Cash from criminal wrong-doing will now help Coquitlam kids

Nearly $60K in funding from criminal forfeiture proceedings is going to programs that teach Indigenous students about the healing power of plants and other youngsters about restorative justice.
Medicine Wheel garden
Medicine Wheel garden under construction at the Suwalk'h school in Coquitlam's district (SD43).

Two unique programs that support Tri-City students are getting nearly $60,000 combined, thanks to proceeds of criminal activity.

Today (May 18), the B.C. government announced $4.3 million in grants from the Civil Forfeiture Crime Prevention and Remediation Program to 121 projects, including two in Coquitlam.

In School District 43 (SD43), a program that teaches students about the healing properties of plants is getting $28,500.

The program Connecting Youth to Food Systems will use the money to empower "Indigenous youth and their community to grow and steward food and medicine plants in the Tri-City region," a news release states.

"Vulnerable youth will grow, prepare, and share food and plant medicines with their community."

Online program to learn about restorative justice

Other grant funding awarded locally through the civil forfeiture program includes $30,112 to CERA (Communities Embracing Restorative Action) for an online awareness project.

According to the province's release, the project aims to "raise awareness of restorative justice among referring partners, including police, Crown, and schools by utilizing online technology."

CERA has been using restorative justice for years with first-time young offenders referred by Coquitlam RCMP and Port Moody police.

In restorative justice, youths who caused harm meet with the harmed party to hear what effect their actions have caused and work out a plan of action.

The program has been working in the Tri-Cities for years with funding from municipalities, provincial grants and private donations, diverting cases from the court system and resolving issues with a 96 per cent success rate.

B.C.'s civil forfeiture program takes proceeds of crime and uses them for community benefit.

"We are building safer communities by redirecting the profits of crime into projects that prevent gender-based and domestic violence, and connect victims with the services they need," said Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth — also B.C.'s minister of public safety and solicitor general.

"The organizations receiving Civil Forfeiture Crime Prevention and Remediation Grants are essential partners in our government’s work to combat crime. I thank them for helping to create a stronger, more resilient province."

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