My letter to Prime Minister Harper/Justice Ministers (September 28, 2008)

Re: escalating violence-gangs / KNIFE vs GUN

As a voter and a mother of a murdered son (Aaron Shoulders, a Canadian), I feel I am still being ignored and so are my issues. It takes a huge amount of courage and emotional investment for me to speak out, raise awareness and fight against the escalating (gang) violence against our youth in our cities, provinces and country. Gang/youth violence continues to escalate, yet little has been done to address this serious problem. It is time to stop the denial, put aside our apathy and get serious. Our children are our future and they are dying in our streets... gangs and organized crime will gain more and more power and will terrorize our communities until our lawmakers and judicial system wakes up and gets serious by making the so necessary changes!

For 5 years I have been speaking out against knives, yet the focus remains on "guns". Even though the majority of murders in Canada are committed with knives, nothing has been done to enforce knife laws. I am outraged by this along with many families who's children were also stabbed to death. Murder is murder no matter what weapon is used!!!! The outcome is always the same, broken hearts, shattered lives, destroyed families and another young life robbed from us.

(Aaron Shoulders Surgeon quotes)

"Personally I have very strong feelings that there is absolutely no reason to carry a knife in the city. A knife can be every bit as deadly as a gun or a bomb, and I have seen too much evidence to prove that. The only reason I see for carrying a knife in the city is to kill, and I believe society has the right to protect itself against such behavior." -Andy Kirkpatrick, Foothills Hospital-Calgary

Steve Sullivan, president of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime said... "more people die as a result of knife violence", Sullivan suggested minimum sentences ought to be considered in cases involving all weapons, not just guns.

We still have NO deterrence for violent criminals who commit these heinous evil inhumane acts. Sentences remain far too short. This allows violent offenders to re-offend as they are FREE. We must focus on changing our Justice system, stop the revolving-door policy at the courts and stop the hug-a-thug attitude. Immigrants committing violent crimes in Canada need to be deported instead of hiding behind our pitiful laws. Murderers should NOT be granted bail, given day passes and should NOT be allowed parole. My son will never get out on bail, day pass or parole... he is gone forever. My family and I are serving a life-sentence without him. Murder is a very serious crime and it is time our system reflects this. Otherwise victims of homicide and their families are re-victimized over and over again and remain paralyzed with fear.

Our government needs to back our Police, so when they catch and arrest these weapon wielding violent murderous thugs/gangsters, they are removed from our streets permanently and sentenced according to their heinous crimes. Judges are now saying they give out sentences according to our written laws... so if the Judges are not at fault, who is??? Who makes our LAWS???

Racism still exists! My son's murder was a racial joy-killing. This has been kept silent and has never been addressed. It is unacceptable and an outrage!

My only son Aaron Shoulders was swarmed and brutally beaten and stabbed by 12 Asian gang-members in 2003... he was tortured to death, he suffered horrendously for 15 days.Aaron also was an innocent bystander. He was promoting peace and saved another's young mans life. Over 200 witnesses stood by and watched, yet refuse to help police to this day.

Aaron's killers remain free, after more than 5 years. According to our police chief, (article in the Calgary Sun July 23rd "we are all in danger") the very gang that brutally murdered my son, is also responsible for much of the violence and blood-shed in our city since 2003. Aaron was stereo-typed because of the color of his skin. I fear for my young grandchildren... will they have a future or will they be next????


I believe the time has come to stop making uninformed, uneducated and hasty decisions that are merely band-aids and do not offer any long term solutions. We need to take a close look at other countries who have taken initiatives and successfully lowered their gang violence/murder rate.

An excellent book "Gangsta in the House" written by Mike Knox, a 15-year veteran of the Houston Police Department... Robert Eckels, Harris County Judge says "This is a must read for every parent, educator and government official in our country" Mayor Bob Lanier Houston, Texas says "An honest, hard-hitting look at gangs--causes and cures--by an honest, hard hitting ex-cop."

Demanding Justice and change...

I would like to meet with you to address my above concerns more in-depth as well as getting your feedback and plans tackling this serious problem to start saving the lives of our youth.

Looking forward to your timely response. I will be calling your office next week, I trust you will find the time to discuss this pressing issue.
Thank you.

Steffi Stehwien


"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Aaron's Story