A Ponoka town councillor is adopting a good cause by trying to join a seemingly unlikely, but well-respected group.
Imagine being an underage victim of abuse and having to face your abuser in court. Besides the intimidation of being in a court system full of legalese and busy lawyers, having to sit beside an abuser is a daunting prospect.
However, imagine having a group of bikers sitting behind you providing much-needed moral support. This is something the Urban Bulldogs against Kids Abuse (UBAKA) — a worldwide biker group advocating support for young victims of abuse — work on to help those in need.
Town Coun. Tim Falkiner was inspired by the message of the program. He took some time Tuesday, Oct. 13 in an interview with some some members to tell their story. “I looked into them a little bit and I thought I could do that,” said Falkiner.
He feels victims of abuse, especially young people, need a voice and UBAKA is a group that works closely with families and provides moral support if that is what is requested of them. Rather than a vigilante type of group, the bikers are vetted through a criminal and youth safety records check, says Darryl Hogenson, the road captain of Red Deer’s chapter.
UBAKA is not quite a motorcycle group but it is structured in a similar way. Members are seen as family, said Hogenson. UBAKA’s purpose is to be the filler from when the police get involved to when some help is provided. “We’re the support system that would go in as a mediator … as a group of family, as a shoulder.”
Some of that help includes finding counselling in dealing with the abuse and with courts cases, staying at home with victims or set people up with the right support groups. Most biker organizations are not allowed to wear their “cuts,” or vests, in the courthouse, said Hogenson, but UBAKA’s mandate is looked on with such high esteem that in their case, it is allowed.
“(It’s) recognized with high regard in the court system,” he said.
Their intent is to provide support to victims across the province and Hogenson feels their very presence in the courtroom has given victims a feeling of empowerment and courage during the process. “We don’t say anything, we’re there,” he said simply.
More information is available at ubaka.ca.
UBAKA members don’t talk or speak out of turn in court, they simply sit behind victims as a moral support and they only attend if invited.
Falkiner is in the process of applying to be a member and he suggests that while there are times people will stand up and protest cases of animal abuse, young people may not have that same support.
“Abuse is shunned,” added Hogenson, “everybody tries to sweep it under the carpet. Everybody is ashamed.”
There are times victims have little support and UBAKA fills that need, he explained. The need is high for this type of support, stated Hogenson.
In an effort to raise further awareness, members are also wearing nail polish on one finger on their hand this week. The purpose, said Hogenson, is to support the one in five children who are exposed to reported abuse of some kind.
To promote their cause, UBAKA hosts community barbecues and they are always looking for new members. They host open meetings on the third Friday of every month to give prospectors a chance to familiarize themselves with UBAKA.