Monthly Archives: June 2012


Eastside Stories: Diary of a Vancouver Beat Cop – ‘No easy answers’

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Steve A young hipster in skinny jeans and a plaid shirt stopped me on West Hastings Street the other day. “So, when are you gonna start arresting some of the drug dealers out here?” he asked. It was a bit of a sarcastic comment, so I dished a little of the same back his way. “Sure,” I said. “You point ‘em out to me and I’ll go arrest them.” We were standing outside the Burns Block, a century-old building and former low-income hotel that was recently converted into 30 “micro-lofts.” It’s part of the so-called gentrification of the Downtown Eastside. This hipster had apparently just moved into the area, likely wanting to live in Vancouver’s edgiest neighbourhood, but perhaps not quite realizing his front door was just steps away from ground zero in the city’s open-air drug market. ‘They’re everywhere,” he said. “I walk down the street and all I get is people trying to sell me drugs.” Despite the cheekiness of our initial exchange, I could tell he was genuine. I empathized with his frustration. He felt like the police were not doing enough to deal with the drug problem in the area. Looking around at […]


Odd Squad Productions celebrates 15th anniversary in style

By Kelly Marion Photos by Kelly J Marion –> @kellyjean247 Odd Squad Productions (OSP) held their 15th Annual Fundraiser Gala this month and sold out at over 1000 guests. The Vancouver Convention Centre was overflowing with black ties and evening gowns, with everyone looking chic as they perused the silent auction and sipped on a glass of wine. The large support was shown through people of all ages, social statuses and races including many from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). What began as a community of volunteer police offers determined to beat work on the East side of Vancouver in 1997, is now an organization at the forefront as a highly regarded resource directed at prevention education and awareness for youth. They began using the scare tactic with the debut of their award-winning “Through a Blue Lens” production. Take a moment to watch the film and you’ll understand the effect it can have. Since then, they have grown to incorporate many educational videos and peer-to-peer programs in an effort to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. After a walk down the red carpet with the VPD lining each side, the night unfolded in to an evening of entertainment, education and eating. There was a special marine […]


VANCOUVER DAZE VOL. 73: 15TH ANNIVERSARY ODD SQUAD GALA

Volume 73 of Vancouver Is Awesome: POSTED BY RICK CHUNG 15th anniversary Odd Squad Gala at Vancouver Convention Centre West on June 7, 2012. Hashtag: #OddSquadGala. More photos available on Flickr. The Odd Squad celebrated fifteen years with their annual gala. For the unaware, TOS is a local organization started to keep troubled youth off the street and away from drugs, gangs, and violence. I had no idea of the strong Vancouver PD association. The night’s gala affair included special guests like Winnipeg Jets player Evander Kane, Mayor Gregor Robertson, Chief Constable Jim Chu, board memberJim Byrnes, and other local celebrities. TOS includes a strong documentary program, producing an Oscar-nominated short on policeman Whistling Smith as well as peer-to-peer component, and talks from reformed gang members. I was curious about the whole “odd” theme and moniker, considering the VPD association. Evidently, it started from a saying and even including a musical set from The Odds. The night included some special entertainment from dragon dancers, a boat show, vintage car display, and host of other entertainment. The celebration brought together a few of the higher aspects of local charity, reminding us to do our part, support good causes, and never forget to improve our surroundings and contribute to our society.


Hudec ‘humbled’ by tour of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Calgary’s Jan Hudec made his Olympic debut in Vancouver  in 2010, but this week he came here for a completely different experience. And it left  him feeling humbled and grateful for the opportunities he has as a full-time athlete. Hudec, 30, toured the Downtown Eastside Wednesday night through a program run by Odd Squad Production Society, a non-profit organization established by retired and current Vancouver police officers to educate and empower youth (I spoke with Odd Squad and wrote about this project in Wednesday’s The Province). Hudec along with national team speedskaters Jamie Gregg, Christine Nesbitt, Cindy Klassen and Brittany Schussler spent several hours talking to homeless people and those suffering from addictions. They shared their life stories and talked about how they ended up where they are today. “We talked about where they came from, what things were like growing up,” Hudec said in a release from Alpine Canada. “We asked some pretty direct questions, like whether they even wanted to get clean. It was interesting. “One of the answers I came away with was that sometimes people get into situations that they don’t think they can get out of any more.” Hudec also has a story to tell. With […]


Drug presentation & DTES walk-about

Leave a comment ‘Behind the Blue Line’ » By: sandra@behindtheblueline.ca Two Friday’s ago, the Odd Squad gave their drug presentation to my daughter’s sports team to provide the girls a basic understanding about the hazards of drug use. The presentation was the same provided to high schools but was tailored to the small group, which was ideal as the girls were in their peer environment. In addition to the officers giving the talk, hubby and I were also there – me in uniform, and hubby as a chaperone – but we left the room when it came time for Q&A so the girls would feel comfortable asking whatever questions they needed to ask.   Apparently, they asked some excellent questions. The officers giving the talk weren’t sworn to secrecy; they were respecting the girls and allowing them the freedom of unfettered curiosity so I’m not sure of the exact questions, but what was clear was this – even though they have heard about cocaine and heroin, the girls showed their naivety and innocence by not knowing what the drugs actually were, and their questions focused more around drinking and cigarettes. In the end, we, as parents and educators, cannot make decisions for our children, […]


ODD SQUAD Experience by Brittany Schussler

by Brittany Schussler | Skating | Long Track Click here for the original ‘SportCafe’ post This week I was fortunate to have the eye-opening experience of taking a trip to downtown Vancouver with the ODD Squad. The Odd Squad is a group of police officers who are using their experiences in the East area of Vancouver, one of the most drug and crime ridden areas in North America, to educate youth about the dangers of drug addiction. The Odd Squad has been operating for 15 years and has made a handful of documentaries about their experiences. They also take people such as myself with them to walk around the area and get the full experience in order to be able to share it with people in their community. My night with the Odd Squad began with a 90 minute presentation about why the program exists and what we should be prepared to see. The presentation made me nervous, to say the least. The most experience I have with drugs is seeing other kids smoking joints at high school parties. So, to go out on the street and talk to someone smoking from a crack pipe is beyond shocking. The video presentation […]


Gurmit Singh Dhak: Pitfalls of street life brought into sharp focus (with video)

Interview with a gangster who predicted his own death part of Odd Squad’s outreach to youth By Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun Click here to WATCH THE VIDEO Four months before Gurmit Singh Dhak was gunned down outside Metrotown in October 2010, he predicted his own death in a chilling interview with Vancouver’s Odd Squad. “Every day I’ve got to look over my shoulder,” Dhak told police officers Doug Spencer and Toby Hinton, who work with the non-profit educational group. “I have got to worry — if I jump out of my car am I going to get shot? Or I could be walking in the mall and walking out and get shot. I don’t know.” He also told them he regretted getting involved in gangs and the grief that it had caused him and his family. “If I could turn back time, I would never join a gang. I would have just finished off my high school, got a better job, anything else. Anything is better than joining a gang. It is useless. You are going to get killed,” he said. “I want to get out. It is too late now to get out. I have too many enemies. “ […]


Olympians on east side Athletes promote healthy living, learn about issues

          BY TERRY BELL, THE PROVINCE Christine Nesbitt came to Vancouver 28 months ago and left town with a 2010 Olympic speedskating gold medal hanging around her neck. On Wednesday Nesbitt is returning to Vancouver with some of her Calgary-based teammates for a close-up look at the city’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. The visit is part of a program run by the Odd Squad Production Society, a non-profit group established in 1997 by a group of retired and current Vancouver police officers. Its goal is to “design programs that honour and motivate youth, encourage them to set positive goals, lay their own path and stay On Track by keeping drug-free for a long and healthy life.” For several years Odd Squad has been offering the program to a number of junior hockey teams but this will be the first involvement by Olympic athletes. Chris Graham, a founding member and Director of Peer-to-Peer programs, is ecstatic. “One of the things that’s been on our mind for a long time is that there’s a lot of girls involved in gang activity and drug trafficking and poor relationships,” Graham, a retired Vancouver policeman, said Tuesday. “We’re not able to deal […]


Quest for fame move gang wars from back alleys into the open

Stephanie Levitz  OTTAWA – Toronto police called the shooter who opened fire in a downtown mall Saturday “one idiot with a gun.” But some gang experts argue public shootings like the one at the Eaton Centre that left one man dead and several other people wounded are part of an effort by gang leaders to make themselves look like anything but idiots. Gangs are increasingly taking their fights public to gain fame and notoriety, said Const. Doug Spencer, a Vancouver transit police officer who works with the city’s Odd Squad Productions Society on crime prevention. Public shootings are designed to send a message, Spencer said. “They say if they’ll do it there, they’ll do it anywhere, you don’t want to mess with those guys, they’re crazy, and that’s the reputation they want.” Spencer said Vancouver-area police began noticing a change in gang activity about three or four years ago when fights that used to be waged in back alleys suddenly burst onto public streets. In 2007, six people were killed at a Surrey, B.C., apartment. Four had criminal connections, but two were innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since then, B.C. police have been called to shootings […]


National speed skating and alpine skiing athletes team-up with Vancouver’s Odd Squad

Posted by Speed Skating Canada CALGARY – Canadian team national team and Olympic athletes Jan Hudec, Canada’s leading downhill skier, and speed skaters Jamie Gregg, Cindy Klassen, Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler will team-up with Vancouver’s Odd Squad Productions Society on Wednesday, June 6 for a presentation and learning experience, and attend the 2012 Odd Squad Gala Fundraiser on Thursday, June 7. The five athletes will join 10 Calgary-area business executives at the Odd Squad’s Vancouver office for a presentation on Wednesday. They will then be divided into groups of five for a two-hour experience of Vancouver’s downtown east district. On Thursday, the athletes will attend the 15th annual Odd Squad Gala Fundraiser at the Vancouver Convention Centre (see event news release). Since 1997, the Odd Squad has been dedicated to educating the public of the devastating effects that high-risk behavior has on members of our community. Their peer-to-peer workshops have included a Hockey Mentor Program with several Western Hockey League teams. Visit their website for additional information on their programs – click here.