July 17, 2019 7:26 pm
Updated: July 18, 2019 7:20 am

Saskatoon’s Nestor’s Bakery combating violence with doughnut giveaway

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In a sweet attempt to combat violence, some customers at Nestor’s Bakery in Saskatoon will soon flash their Facebook profile to get a free doughnut.

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Keith Jorgenson, the owner of Nestor’s Bakery, considers it a way to reward people for having profiles that don’t include things like gang affiliations, violent imagery or drug marketing.

READ MORE: Saskatoon police increasing presence in Pleasant Hill following homicides

“A lot of drugs are sold via Facebook and Facebook Messenger. There’s a lot of references to violence and gangs on Facebook,” Jorgenson said on Wednesday.

The free doughnut day is planned for every third Thursday of the month and is open to anyone aged 11 to 30 who lives in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods.

For just over a decade, Jorgenson ran an alternate school on 20th Street in Saskatoon, where students received an education and a bakery job. Now Facebook friends with many young people, he sees their social media profiles.

Recently, he’s noticed people selling weapons and drugs in particular.

“It is something that has bothered me on a regular basis,” Jorgenson said, whose business straddles the Riversdale and Pleasant Hill neighbourhoods.

The inaugural free doughnut day at Nestor’s Bakery comes not long after Pleasant Hill saw three homicides in one week. Saskatoon police vowed increased enforcement in the area with no limit on the resources deployed.

READ MORE: STR8 UP calling for funding boost to enact Saskatchewan gang strategy

Pleasant Hill is also one of the lowest-income neighbourhoods in Saskatoon.

Living and working nearby for more than 40 years, Nestor’s employee Janet Neu said she’s planning to ice 30-dozen doughnuts for the big day.

“We’re here to help people and hopefully we can reach a few of them,” Neu said.

Anyone outside the age or location requirements for a free doughnut can buy one on Thursday. All proceeds go to STR8 UP, a local grassroots organization helping people transition out of gang life.

Robert Henry, an assistant professor of Indigenous studies at the University of Saskatchewan, said social media provides an international vessel for gang influences. Before, word spread by word of mouth.

WATCH (March 31, 2019): Saskatoon man goes from rock bottom to redemption

“We do know that youth are using multimedia in specific ways to gain an identity, to gain a reputation,” Henry said.

At the same time, Henry said social media can be an empowering tool for people trying to leave gang life.

“They like to share their story because it is a story of hope for other individuals,” Henry said.

Back at Nestor’s Bakery, Jorgenson hopes the small gesture shows there are rewards to living a clean, positive life.

“A lot of them are bigger than a doughnut, but in the immediate terms, the reward is a doughnut.”

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