Nominate an Alberta community safety superhero

Alberta Community Justice Award recipients help provide justice for all

Denise Blair

Denise Blair, executive director of Calgary Youth Justice Society, receives an award in 2012.

It’s that time of year when Albertans have the opportunity to recognize community superheroes who go the extra mile to help keep neighbourhoods safe. Every January and February, the Alberta government asks people to nominate committed local leaders for an Alberta Community Justice Award. Over the years, a wide range of outstanding recipients have been recognized for their innovative work on community safety, crime prevention and criminal justice system projects. Here is a reminder of some of their inspirational achievements.

In 2013, Beth Reitz, executive director of the Ponoka Youth Centre, was honoured for helping youth make positive and healthy life choices. The centre operates 13 different programs for children and youth, and recently added a teen mentoring initiative to its roster, where high school students earn credits for supporting elementary school children. 

“It was very encouraging to receive an award,” said Reitz. “We hope that people are now more aware of the work we’re doing. The award also helps bring increased legitimacy to our programs.”

Reporter Julie Matthews was recognized in 2012 for assisting Albertans with consumer concerns.  Matthews has spent the past decade as the Global Edmonton troubleshooter, providing consumer education and crime prevention information to viewers.

“I strongly believe in the consumer education and crime prevention angle of my investigations and stories,” said Matthews. “If I do a story on a garage break-in or theft, I look at what we can all learn from this. That is the key to crime prevention and awareness, to provide tips for the public on how to protect themselves.”

Denise Blair, executive director of the Calgary Youth Justice Society, was acknowledged in 2012 for her involvement in launching In the Lead, a program helping at risk youth develop leadership potential. Youth nominated to the program share a mentoring relationship with a supportive volunteer coach.

“It was an honour to receive the award after working in crime prevention for more than 20 years,” said Blair. “It reaffirms what we do is making a difference in our community and that what we do matters. There are a lot of great programs available and amazing people involved. This was a team award and I am thankful to the partners, volunteers and staff – past and present.”

This year’s Alberta Community Justice Awards will take place on May 9 in Calgary, and will be co-hosted by the Government of Alberta and the Lethbridge Regional Police Service. The wooden plaques awarded to recipients are currently being made by inmates on the woodworking program at Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre.

To nominate a community leader, submit the completed application form by February 7.

Lee Kinzel

Lee Kinzel, shop foreman at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre, holds up one of the Alberta Community Justice Awards. Lee oversees a team of inmates in the centre’s wood shop who make these awards.

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