Gunreet Sethi (left), a member of L.A. Matheson Secondary’s Mustang Justice’s Program, stands with Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and program co-ordinators Annie Ohana and Gurpreet Kaur Bains after receiving the inaugural Mayor’s Award for Fostering Civic Responsibility on Wednesday. Along with the recognition, the Mustang Justice Program takes home $10,000. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

Surrey school’s Mustang Justice program wins $10,000 award

‘We try to empower kids to do amazing things’

By Malin Jordan, Now-Leader contributor

A Surrey school program is being recognized in a big way for making a big difference.

The Mustang Justice program at L.A. Matheson Secondary was named the winner of Mayor Linda Hepner’s inaugural civic responsibility award on Wednesday (June 20). Along with the prestige and a plaque, the program will receive $10,000 to help fund more initiatives.

“We try to empower kids to do amazing things,” said Annie Ohana, Social Justice Program and Aboriginal Department head at the school. “The funds will now give us a chance to give kids more opportunities.”

The Mayor’s Award for Fostering Civic Responsibility recognizes a group that goes above and beyond its mandate to make a positive change in both the community and to youth.

“The core purpose of Mustang Justice is to foster responsibility and a desire to change their communities for the better,” said Hepner. “A key feature of the program is its focus on social justice, social responsibility and the dedication to systemic solutions to community issues.”

“I don’t think you can be a good citizen of this city, or this country, without a sense of service and responsibility,” added Hepner. “This program does both of those things.”

Hepner said Mustang Justice put together more than 300 “Welcome to Canada” care packages for Syrian refugees that will be settling in Surrey, among many other social justice initiatives.

Ohana founded Mustang Justice six years ago and said it has now morphed into a student-led venture for kids in Grades 8 to 12.

She said they have always scrambled to find much-needed funds to help here and fit there and bolster in other places. Some of those opportunities include transportation, scholarship and teaching needs.

Ohana runs the program with Gurpreet Kaur Bains, Language Department head at L.A. Matheson. Bains said the award validates the work they’ve been doing in the community. Although it is sometimes thankless work, Bains noted the work is necessary and rewarding.

“We’ve been trying to run programs where our kids take pride in themselves, get involved in initiatives that build their self-esteem, and give them roots so they are grounded in this community.”

Bains also hopes the award inspires and motivates current and future students to pitch in and be active citizens.

Gunreet Sethi, Grade 12 student and member of Mustang Justice, said the monetary award will help out in many areas of need.

“The fundraising is a heck of a lot of work,” she said. “The award is going to help contribute to a lot of necessary things.”

Sethi said the program turned her life around, lit a fire in her heart and changed her way of viewing the world.

She said a highlight for her as a member of Mustang Justice was attending the March For Our Lives rally held in March at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver.

“We stood in solidarity with students all around the world, but specifically with those in the U.S. who are suffering from gun violence.”

She added the program has “assisted the younger generation to become aware of where they come from and why they should be proud of who they are.”

Just Posted

Province to pass $1.25-million repair bill for South Surrey overpass on to ICBC

152 Street overpass was struck by overheight truck on Dec. 4, 2017

Ex-Mountie who investigated ‘Surrey six’ murders gets conditional sentence

Derek Brassington pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday

How fallen Surrey Mountie’s Stetson ended up in Europe puzzles police

Constable Terry Draginda’s hat is repatriated after being found at a flea market in Hamburg, Germany

Delta considering extending tax freeze, fee waiver for developers on Scott Road

The incentives are aimed at creating more diverse development in the area, says Delta’s city manager

Surrey social justice activist wins Sher Vancouver’s Youth Leadership Award

Shilpa Narayan says her work is about ‘ensuring a safe space’ for marginalized youth

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

Most Read