Anti Gang Program Cuts

Tiar Wilson, aptn National News

A number of inner city programs in Winnipeg that help combat gangs are in danger of being cut.

The federal government has yet to send funding to 5 programs meaning that some staff may be laid off. Circle of Courage is one of the programs. It targets young boys between the ages of 12 and 17 who are at risk of being caught up in gang life. One of the boys who used to run drugs for a local gang says it’s helping him.

“I’m going to school more often and I’m here (at the program) most of the time.”

At the moment there are 70 young people enrolled in the 5 programs across Winnipeg. Two thirds of them are aboriginal teenagers.

Leslie Spillett is with the Kanikanichik Organization that runs Circle of Courage.

“there has been no new criminal charges laid against them there has been some breaches in probation but no re-offending has occured which illustrates in a very concrete way how important working with young people is.”

The programs have been around since 2007 and are in part funded by federal, provincial and municipal dollars. Despite saying that the programs have been a success, Ottawa has yet to commit any money for the future and that means as many as 28 people could lose their jobs.

Spillet says the worst thing is telling the young people that the program may close for good.

“its a systemic thing. its an extremely frustrating way of providing services to the community, instead of putting your energy and focus on the community its on finding money.”

More prisons:

Earlier this month, the federal conservative government announced that it was spending 2-billion dollars over 5 years to expand Canada’s prisons. According to Spillet, that’s a little ironic.

“the real irony is that how gangs got really established in this province is because of the criminal justice system because thats where the main recruiting went and goes on and thats how it spread into alot of our other communities.”

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