Hard drugs. Guns. Stealing cars. These are day-to-day realities for the rank and file of Regina’s gang community.
While you may picture an 18-to-20-something gangster, often, the culture indoctrinates its soldiers much earlier.
“I was 13-years-old the first time I tried hard drugs” said Cody Francis, a former Native Syndicate member.
“I was 13-years-old the first time I stole a car, the first time I had my own gun.”
For many, it’s barely a choice to join a gang. Family, and often a lack thereof, is a major factor.
Francis grew up without a significant father figure. His older brother joined NS first.
“I remember I was trying to follow in my brother’s footsteps,” he said.
“I thought I was making him proud when I joined.”
So it goes for several of the former gang members Global News spoke with. One started running with NS at 13. He was the first of his six siblings to do so, but soon after, three followed in his footsteps.
For others, a gang can fill a void where there is no family. For those without a stable home life, a sense of belonging can be a powerful force bringing new members into gang life and keeping them there.
To counter these issues, preventative measures appear to be the most appealing from a law enforcement perspective.
“If we can take a family that’s got some fracture,” says Regina police Chief Evan Bray, “and through service providing and education, get that family to work more like a family should — which is cohesive and loving — that’s the success.”
“In the last bit, my brother would always try to stop me from doing certain things,” Francis said.
“I thought he was trying to hold me back, but … more than likely he was trying to protect me.”
It was an epiphany that only dawned on him once he saw his younger sister going through the same process he had.
“I came to the realization that he wasn’t happy for me at all. It broke my heart because I didn’t want her to be part of it all.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.