This week ISD held the first Strong Cities Network bilateral exchange, building cooperation and shared learning learning to counter violent extremism in the cities of Dakar, Senegal and Montréal, Canada.
Hosted in Montréal by the city’s International Relations unit, this exchange is the first of its kind and aims to promote and share on a city-to-city basis vital practical tools and initiatives to reduce local risk, prevent violence and build cohesive communities.
The visit included a series of roundtables with key Montréal representatives from City Hall, social development teams, research units and the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal, as well as a consultation and training workshop led by Strong Cities Network partners at the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence. Top officials from Dakar travelled to Montréal to attend these sessions including Maye Seck, urban security adviser to the Mayor, and Papa Alassane Seck, supervisor of Dakar’s innovative Volunteer Programme.
Daniel Hooton, Strong Cities Network Coordinator, commented: “This exchange marks an important milestone for the Strong Cities Network and crystalises the ultimate goal of this initiative – to connect and empower cities’ responses to extremism. Dakar and Montréal are different cities in many ways but they both take a holistic, astute and proportionate approach to countering extremism. Both approach this challenge within the context of wider city issues including gangs and urban violence. We hope both cities will learn much from this visit, which will help to safeguard their communities against polarisation, hate and violence.”
Maye Seck, urban security adviser to the Mayor of Dakar, speaking at the end of the exchange, said: “It has been incredible to learn about the wide-ranging security and prevention initiatives in place in Montréal over the past few days, and to be able to talk directly with the teams involved in developing and implementing local programming. Our time with the City of Montréal and with the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence has been instrumental, giving us practical support to design training for our volunteer programme. Despite our different contexts, Dakar and Montréal share a similar set of priorities, taking proactive steps across our cities to prevent violence and build peaceful communities.”
Esteban Benavides, international affairs adviser at Ville de Montréal (City of Montréal), commented: “Taking part in these exchanges underlines the importance of the Strong Cities Network and it is a priority for cities like Montréal and Dakar to continue to build our cooperation, sharing our knowledge and experience on critical issues directly from one city to the next.”
You can read a more detailed report on the exchange here.