Last Sunday I was invited to speak at a high level forum hosted by Wake Up Surrey and KidsPlay Foundation the subject of Drugs and Gangs.
This was my first time speaking in front of hundreds of people.
It is one thing to speak in front of a over 500 hundred people, it’s completely another to stand up there and share my own personal story ... in front of hundreds of people.
I was nervous before I went up on stage, and I wanted to speak my truth.
So, I started my opening line by saying how nervous I was.
As I started to share my story, it became clear to me how important this event was for the people that were there by witnessing their undivided attention.
It wasn’t about me.
The event was filled with students, parents, news media, MP’S and police officers in attendance.
The attendance alone spoke to me about the fact that people from any and all walks of life put a high significance to an issue that is clearly influencing everyone in the community, and it shows how much they actually cared. Rightfully so.
My nerves calmed down.
And I held nothing back.
I shared from my heart what I thought would be most useful for the audience to help them get a very real perspective of my full experience. I shared my emotions, my struggles and the confusion I faced when I was caught up in my past lifestyle. I shared how I got out of that life, and what I’ve learned from it so that others who struggle now can get glimpse of hope and possibility into their own lives, and the lives of their loved ones.
I was joined by 3 other courageous speakers who bravely shared their truths and experiences about their own lifestyles, their transformations and what they have learned.
Listening to them speak inspired me deeply.
I could see how much this event impacted people.
The questions that the audience asked us after were all centred around how they can be more aware and knowledgeable, be more connected to their children and help each other with solidarity. That indicated to me that people have an open mind, the best intentions and they want to help each other. We all just need to have more effective and sustainable ways to do that. I spoke to many people that came up to me after my speech and told me about how they had lost family members to drugs, alcohol or the gang life. They asked about what they could do now and how they can help. Some of them are already deeply involved in the community working with organizations to find ways to prevent the senseless violence and deaths of young, bright kids with tremendous potential who have had their life cut short because of drugs and gangs.
It’s clear to me that everyone is doing their best with what they know, and it’s also clear to me that our companionship, our unity and collaboration with each other is exactly what’s going to move us ahead in a productive way.
This forum showed the community different angles of this lifestyle and started a fresh conversation around this topic. It showed people an uncommon element besides what the media and police can show. KidsPlay Foundation has been holding forums like this for years, and all the work they continuously do to prevent the future generations from getting into drugs and gangs is truly commendable.
A truly amazing job by Kal Dosanjh, Kiran Toor, KidsPlay Foundation and all of their student volunteers in collaboration with Wake Up Surrey for hosting an event that provides an unusual and radical approach to an issue that clearly affects every single person in this city and beyond.
I’m honoured to have the opportunity to speak at this event, and I’m thankful that so many people are involved in actively looking for solutions that will have the community thrive safely and productively to a more unified, inclusive and loving future together.
I will be even more engaged in this type of work going forward, as this work is close to my heart.