Money to help keep Sudbury kids away from gangs and guns

City receives $2 million from federal government’s Safer Communities Fund

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Mayor Brian Bigger hopes the new funding will help curb the crime that has plagued Greater Sudbury – and many other jurisdictions – in recent years.

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Bigger, along with Sudbury MLA Viviane Lapointe and Nickel Belt MLA Marc Serre, announced $2 million in funding on Tuesday, as part of the $250 million Safer Communities Fund, a federal initiative.

“The people of Greater Sudbury deserve to feel safe and confident that our community is taking action to protect our most vulnerable youth from gang and gun violence,” said Bigger. “Prevention works best when it’s community led and takes a holistic view of the real challenges facing our young people. »

The fund puts power “in the hands of the Greater Sudbury Police Service and our community,” Bigger added. “As mayor, I am grateful for this investment as we continue to build a safer future for our young people.”

The funding, the Liberals said, is aimed at “helping young people make good choices.”

The money will allow community service organizations to engage young people early to stop the downward spiral before it begins.

“We created the Building Safer Communities Fund to stop gun crime before it starts,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told The Star on Tuesday. “What we hope to achieve with the $2 million we announced for Sudbury is a stronger partnership with the community to address the root causes of gun crime.

Mendicino said the money is intended to encourage young people, especially those at high risk, to “make the right choices – stay in school, get a job, be positive members of their community, rather than s down a darker path that leads to organized crime and gun violence.

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There are a number of challenges driving gun crime, Mendicino said, including the disenfranchisement and exclusion of young people.

“The most important thing for young people is that they have a safe and inclusive space where they can come together, where they can participate and engage with their fellow citizens, and really build that trust, so that they come into contact with organized crime or someone with a gun trying to take them down a darker path, they can make good choices instead,” Mendicino said.

“Whether it’s affordable housing or access to health care, especially mental health care, BSCF is designed to create these spaces based on the skills, experience and wisdom of the community itself.”

Mendicino said the money will be funneled through City Hall to the Greater Sudbury Police Service and other organizations with boots on the ground.

“My department and BSCF implementers will work hand-in-hand with the mayor and his city team to see that these federal dollars get to the communities that need them most,” he said. he declares. “This is where we will empower the community and the City of Greater Sudbury to lead the way with the solutions, programs and supports needed to prevent gun crime.

Officials are still combing through the details, but Mendicino said the goal is to “make the biggest impact” possible with the $2 million.

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Helen Francis, CEO of the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario, shared startling statistics on youth crime rates. Although partner organizations were not announced on Tuesday, the YMCA is expected to receive some of the money for its community programming.

Although there is a downward trend among boys and young white men, Francis said the number of girls involved in the criminal justice system has increased by 20%, while the number of young aboriginals mired in the judicial system has increased by 26%. and the number of black youth involved in crime has increased by more than 40%.

“These numbers are outstanding in a negative way,” Francis said. “The funds that were announced today will help us solve this problem. We all know that wellness is holistic and requires the mental, physical and spiritual facets to be nurtured, for an individual to develop self-efficacy and well-being.

While Mendicino couldn’t attend Tuesday’s announcement — he was delayed by work in Ottawa and missed his plane — Lapointe said the BSCF is what Canadians expect from their government.

“Across Canada, we’ve seen an 81% increase in gun and gang violence,” Lapointe said Tuesday. “Canadians want to live in safe communities. Sudburians want to live in a safe community, so the federal government acted to create this fund.

The funding is intended to be preventative and will move “upstream to prevent involvement in gun and gang violence,” Lapointe added. Organizations across the country will implement projects to have a nationwide impact.

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The Liberals said Tuesday they had heard the concerns of Canadians. No one should risk their life walking through its door.

“Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities,” the Liberals said in a press release. “That’s why the Government of Canada is taking action against gun violence, with a comprehensive plan that gets guns off our streets and puts more resources into our communities. The most important element of this plan is to prevent gun and gang violence from happening in the first place. »

The funding will help address the underlying social conditions that drive crime and “support community-based projects aimed at addressing violence among young people who are involved in gangs or at risk of joining gangs,” the authorities said. liberals.

This is part of a comprehensive approach.

“No single program or initiative can address the challenge of armed violence on its own. That is why the BSCF is one of many elements of the government’s overall plan to keep Canadians safe,” the Liberals noted. “It starts at our borders, where we’ve added resources to fight smuggling and keep guns out of Canada. We banned assault weapons like the AR-15.

The Liberals are cracking down and have said Bill C-21 aims to reduce the potential for violent and devastating results.

“We recently introduced Bill C-21 – Canada’s most significant gun violence measure in a generation – which includes a nationwide freeze on handgun ownership, new red flag laws for end domestic violence and tougher penalties for organized crime,” the Liberals announced. .

mkkeown@postmedia.com
Twitter: @marykkeown
Facebook: @mkkeown

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