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Chinese residents form “safety group” after Burnaby park murder

A new group of Burnaby Chinese residents has formed to focus on fighting crime and make the community feel safe

By Yanliang Li , in City Crime , on October 27, 2018

A new group of Burnaby Chinese residents has formed to focus on fighting crime and make the community feel safe, in the wake of the murder of a young girl in the city’s main park.

So far, the group’s members have convinced Burnaby city council to put cameras and more lights in the Central Park after the murder of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen there last year. But they have more items on their agenda.

Posters adorn a  community safety lecture held by Chinese residents.

Make the community feel safe again

“People in Burnaby are confused and scared after the murder. So, we decided to establish this ‘safety group’ to make the community feel safe again,” said Neil Wu, president of Shenzhen United Association of Vancouver. Wu and his friend, Valentine Wu, who acted as the Shen family’s representative for a time, started the group.

Many Chinese residents have joined the “safety group,” including one-time Vancouver mayoral candidate Meena Wong.

“It’s a sad, sad loss. All Chinese people from our community loved Shen as if she were our own child,” said Wong. Wong is a close friend of Shen’s family and she was determined to work with others to create a better sense of safety in Burnaby.

Burnaby city council has already passed a motion in September to install cameras and more lights in the park. One of their immediate concerns is that cameras haven’t been installed.

“We understand that there may exist some privacy issues,” said Neil Wu.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Provincial Court of British Columbia Criminal Court where Shen’s accused killer was making an appearance on Oct. 12

Dozens of Chinese residents from Burnaby gathered at the latest court appearance date for the man accused of Shen’s murder. Ibrahim Ali appeared in the provincial court on Oct. 12. The group members carried signs stating “Comprehensive Security Screening Now,” demanding community safety and asking for stricter immigration processes.

Chinese residents are changing

The group’s members acknowledged that it is unusual for Chinese-Canadians to demonstrate in this way.

“Such huge demonstrations organized by Chinese communities are rare in Vancouver. We gathered together because our hearts go out to Shen’s mother,” said Fang Wang, who watched Shen’s mother leaving the court in company with Shen’s uncle. Shen’s uncle resigned his job in Beijing and flew to Vancouver after hearing of the tragedy. “The loss of Shen anguished her deeply.”

Shen’s mother leaving the court with her brother

“We used to regard this as the police’s problem,” said Fang Wang. Now after Shen’s murder, the Burnaby community is determined to be heard.

“Chinese people never stand up for something they believe unless it’s super important. Chinese residents in Burnaby share the same emotion and tried to demonstrate our demands this time,” said Wang.

Cpl. Daniela Panesar with the Burnaby RCMP said that they have increased a group of high-visibility patrols on bikes to response to Chinese residents’ appeals.

Flowers in memory of Marrisa Shen in the forest have been left where her body was found

That kind of progress encourages the new lobby group.

“We have achieved something by protests and lobbying,” said Wang. “It’s a great feeling.”