HAMILTON - Setting an outreach example for Canadian society, cooperation between the Muslim community in the port city of Hamilton and police is proving successful in breaking barriers in the country.
One of the ideals of the program is that they can see that the police can be trusted and that it's an honorable profession, Sgt. Derek McDonald, community outreach and counter terrorism officer for Ontario at Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), told CBC on Tuesday, April 30.We hope those students go home and tell their parents.
A program has been in operation to promote trust and cooperation between law enforcement authorities and the Muslim community in Hamilton, in Ontario province.
The program, introduced by Muslim community members Kamran Bhatti and Hussein Hamdani, first started late 2011. It has since expanded to about 10 communities across the province.
The Muslim community comes from all over the world. We have members from Southern Asia, the Middle East, from Africa, said Bhatti.
A lot of these countries that people come from, there is a tremendous amount of distrust with security agencies, law enforcement officials and governments, especially.
What ends up happening is that same baggage comes here to Canada and that gets passed down to the children.
One of the fruits of the program was a Junior Police Academy for Muslim youth for children aged 7 to 12.
Recalling the smiles on the kid's faces when they visited police stations, McDonald hopes that this program would translate into better understanding of federal policing.
All will learn that police can be trusted hopefully by the end of the day, but [it is] to make them less susceptible to the Jihadi jargon that they will come into contact with though the internet or another source, he said.
So when someone is professing hate or radicalization of violence, these kids can hopefully look back and think, that's not what this country and the police are all about.
McDonald opines that implanting a better image of the police in children will help on the long run.
A lot of these kids said you know what, being an RCMP officer could be a potential career opportunity when I become older, he said.
They went from perhaps thinking that the RCMP is an agency that was out to get them to thinking this is something I could do as a career... these are intangible successes.
Reaping the fruits of cooperation, Muslims helped police abort a terror plot to attack a transcontinental passenger train upon a tip-off from an imam.
The first part of the meeting was a thank you, Hamdani said, referring to a recent meeting between Muslim leaders and the RCMP.
The RCMP thanked the Muslim community for providing them with this lead.
The role of the Muslim community was widely praised for their commitment to protecting their country.
I know we're talking about something terrible, but there are a lot of good news stories that are coming out of this, Hamdani said.
The key good news is that the Muslim community were key partners in making Canada safe and secure.
Bhatti vowed to maintain the established partnership to protect Canada.
It never ends and within our communities we continue to work every day to ensure there is safety, he said.
Whatever new things we can learn to benefit safety at a federal level, we will certainly do that.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north American country.A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.