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‘They can make true change.’: Saskatchewan funding supports those exiting gang life

Saskatchewan is investing $4.5 million over the next four years into two community-based organizations as part of its Gang-Violence Reduction Strategy.
Saskatchewan is investing $4.5 million over the next four years into two community-based organizations as part of its Gang-Violence Reduction Strategy. Courtesy / STR8 UP

“What they’re looking for is access to cultural services…they’re looking for a safe place to stay…as well employment.”

Regina Treaty Status Indian Services Inc.’s (RT/SIS) executive director Erica Beaudin said those needs are crucial for someone trying to remove themselves from gang life.

“When people are given appropriate opportunity, they can make true change, for themselves and their family,” Beaudin said.

“The result is less crime and increased safety in our homes and communities which benefits all of us.”

READ MORE: Inside and Out: Regina’s changing gang landscape

It’s a message that is being heard by the province — introducing a new crime initiative in an effort to reduce gang violence in the Saskatchewan.

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Saskatchewan is investing $4.5 million over the next four years into the Community Intervention Model (CIM) — carried out by Saskatoon-based STR8 UP and RT/SIS.

The model is designed to help the two community-based organizations provide outreach, intervention and prevention services — helping people leave gangs and reintegrating them back into their communities.

RT/SIS will provide services for the southern parts of Saskatchewan.

“We concentrate on building with the strengths and working with their daily realities of the individuals that will be accessing this agency through this program,” Beaudin said.

“It’s vital to the work that we’re doing with people who are exiting from correctional facilities or who are referred to us. It will put resources directly to interventions that will…create real opportunity for life changes.”

Click to play video 'Inside and Out: Day in the Life' Inside and Out: Day in the Life
Inside and Out: Day in the Life

STR8 UP will provide services in central and northern parts of the province.

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“STR8 UP is committed to helping gang members exit gang life,” said Stan Tu’Inukuafe, co-founder.

“This funding allows STR8 UP and its recovering members to work intensively with identified participants and will be delivered with the support of vital community organizations, notably: West Flat Citizens Group Inc. and Prince Albert Outreach Program Inc. in northern Saskatchewan.”

READ MORE: Regina has 2nd-highest crime severity index in the country

CIM is part of Saskatchewan’s Gang-Violence Reduction Strategy and is expected to provide services to 100 gang-affiliated individuals over the next four years.

“We believe the Community Intervention Model will help reduce gang crime in communities,” said Christine Tell, corrections and policing minister.

“It will help clients reduce contact with the justice system and promote a connection to employment, educational or training opportunities, which helps them build positive life skills.”

The federal government invested $11.9 million in Saskatchewan’s Gang Violence Reduction Strategy in the spring, through their Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence program.