Tue, May 19, 2009


Core Kwantlen faculty of the CURA award (from left): Dr. Gira Bhatt, Stephen Dooley and Dr. Roger Tweed who received a $1-million grant to research a new approach to gang violence.

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For immediate release

May 20, 2009

New Surrey University Wins Million Dollar Grant for Innovative Research into B.C.’s Gang Problem

(SURREY, B.C.) Only a year after being granted full university status, Kwantlen Polytechnic University has won a $1 million dollar federal research grant to look at how to keep young people from falling into the gang lifestyle.

Ten universities across the country were selected from 79 applicants and Kwantlen was the only university west of Thunder Bay to win the grant. It joins such prestigious company as the Université de Montréal, University of Toronto, Queens University and the University of Ottawa.

The research proposal is a result of two public gang forums Kwantlen organized in 2006 that found it’s difficult for kids to get out of a gang once they get in. The forum strongly recommended a plan to keep kids from becoming involved with gangs.

“Instead of looking at what’s wrong with society, our research will examine what it is society does right with those youth who reject the gang lifestyle and come up with recommendations for those who are at risk,” says Kwantlen project leader Dr. Gira Bhatt of her team’s new approach to the problem.

The project will track 900 youth over five years and also involve interviews and focus groups with youth, parents, teachers and ex-gang members. The knowledge generated will be made public through radio and television talk shows, interactive theatre, training workshops and through the project’s website

The community will benefit directly from the project with 35 per cent of the $1 million grant going to community training and education and 31 per cent supporting youth and university students engaged in a number of project activities.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts says it’s not just her municipality that will benefit from the research. “We hope to create a model that will inspire other communities and help them develop their own anti-gang programs.”

The funding is provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) under CURA, the Community University Research Alliance program, which recognizes innovative research that is community based.

The project’s 11 community partners include, Integrated Gang Task Force Sergeant Shinder Kirk, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, the Surrey School District and a number of community and youth organizations such as the Sikh Alliance Against Youth Violence (VIRSA) and the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence.


For more information visit or contact:
Dr. Gira Bhatt
Project Director
Tel: 604-599-3054 Ext: 9490
Cel: 604-808-7876


Mike Clarke/Judith Walker
Peak Communicators
Tel: 604-689-5559


For more information about Kwantlen, contact:
Peter Chevrier
Director, Marketing and Communications
Tel: 604.599.2286

CURA Gang Research
Dr. Gira Bhatt (in Center) and student researchers (from left) Karen Aujla, Sandra Lenore Gutierrez, Meiko Assoon and William Szilveszter who are participating in a new approach to gang violence research at Kwantlen.