Canadian University Students Help Combat Child Soldiers in Africa

Canadian University Students Help Combat Child Soldiers in Africa

Two University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) criminology practicum students, working with an international risk mitigation firm are volunteering their time in support of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and its efforts to develop new strategies and tactics for eradicating the recruitment and use of child soldiers worldwide.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work on an issue of such great magnitude that can make a real impact on young lives” said Marie Verbenkov, a graduating criminology at UFV. “I am looking forward to contributing in a positive, meaningful manner to help eliminate the use of child soldiers worldwide. This is a fantastic learning opportunity and I am excited to engage in a project that can help the future of children” she went on to say.

Jeff Schneider, a classmate of Ms. Verbenkov, said “This is an incredible opportunity to be working support of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. It truly is an eye opening experience to see what goes on in other parts of the world and I’m excited to do my part to help the cause.”

“The research these students are doing will have very practical, real world application in helping peacekeepers and security forces understand how children are being used as weapons of war in specific conflicts and help them to interrupt recruitment and better protect children.” Dr. Shelly Whitman, executive director, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.

“This is our first time supporting the great work of the Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and we are excited by what we can do to help” said Robert Burns, President and CEO of CKR Global, Canada’s leading risk mitigation and investigation firm. “At the same time, this is the start of our fourth year working with UFV criminology practicum students and it’s been a tremendous experience for us helping them learn about international risk mitigation and human safety.”

“Faculty with the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice have partnered with outstanding organizations like CKR Global,  to create the best practicum experience possible for its students” stated Kim Williams, Criminology Field Practicum Coordinator at UFV. “These practicums, as well as the course and research opportunities within the School contribute to our graduates being well positioned for exciting careers in criminal justice, by exposing them to project work, like the Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative, that enhances their critical thinking, problem solving, and ability to contribute to a socially just world” she continued.

“We are very excited to see our students involved in this work. These partnerships continue to provide experiential learning opportunities for our students and enhance our passion for student success, faculty engagement, and community involvement,” said Amy Prevost, Department Chair of the School of Criminology at UFV.

Ms. Verbenkov and Mr. Schneider will be researching the nature of child soldier activities, human rights implications and concerns in Chad and South Sudan to supplement training that security sector actors receive on the ground from Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative team members. The students will act as an additional resource in the field to peace keepers and others by creating detailed country reports which are designed as an extension to the world leading handbook and training for security sector actors developed by the Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. The country reports give security sector actors specific information in terms of child protection and child soldiery in support of their mission to end the scourge of child soldiers and help enhance child rights in fragile states and conflict zones.

“Our work with the Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and UFV practicum students dovetails nicely with our ongoing support over the past ten years of UNICEF child rights and justice reform projects in East Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia” says Robert Burns. “Where it is safe, we have involved UFV practicum students in this work so that they have an immersive experience in another culture and justice system while also gaining practical human rights experience” continued Burns.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with CKR Global and the UFV practicum students to further our mission to bring an end to the use of children as weapons of war.” Dr. Shelly Whitman.


Founded by retired lieutenant-general and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.


Josh Boyter

Communications Officer

1 902 494 2392 (office), 1 902 489 6767 (cell)



CKR Global is Canada’s leading provider of risk mitigation and investigation services. CKR provides innovative solutions that reduce client risk, minimize loss, enhance compliance and increase human safety. We enable our clients to enhance business performance and ensure operational continuity by providing the experts and the tools to manage all levels of risk.

With over 700 subject matter experts in 25 offices across Canada, and strategic locations around the world, we offer expert support to corporate and government organizations nationally and internationally. CKR Global is there to protect our clients’ business interests from all levels of risk, enabling our clients to perform at the top of their respective industries.


Mark LaLonde

Director, CKR Global



The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) is a fully accredited, public university that enrolls approximately 15,000 students per year. UFV has campuses and locations in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Hope and Agassiz.

In the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UFV students can pursue careers in the criminal justice and public safety fields. We offer a variety of challenging career avenues and opportunities for specialized research and study. UFV’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Master of Arts (Criminal Justice) degree (two years), a Bachelor of Arts (Criminal Justice) degree (four years) and a Criminal Justice diploma.



Amy Prevost, Ph.D.

Director, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

University of the Fraser Valley