Regina is receiving $2.96 million from the federal government’s Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF) to help reduce gun crime and gang violence in the city.
An announcement was made at the mamaweyatitan centre Friday morning by Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Mayor Sandra Masters.
According to a government of Canada news release, the city will distribute the funding to community-led projects for young people involved in gangs or who are at risk of joining them.
“My number one priority as Minister of Public Safety is keeping Canadians safe. Investments in grassroots efforts in Regina are essential to addressing the social conditions that lead youth and young adults to get involved in a life of crime. Put simply, we must stop gun and gang violence before it starts,” federal Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino said in a news release.
Mayor Sandra Masters said ensuring at-risk youth have access to resources and can participate in the community will help prevent them from getting involved in gang activity while also creating more opportunities for them to thrive.
“We know that gang related activity is active in our city,” Masters said Friday.
“In 2021, Regina had the highest rate of firearm-related violent crime out of all census metropolitan areas in Canada. It affirms the need to focus on proactive measures that will keep youth from seeking community through gangs.”
The amount of funding provided from Ottawa’s BSCF program is determined by crime severity, which includes: homicide by firearm, incidents of firearms offences, organized crime/street gang-involved crime, as well as population density.
Masters said the city will engage with people who work with youth daily, as well as the youth themselves, about what type of programming might be beneficial.
One organization Masters mentioned that would likely benefit from this funding is Growing Young Movers, a non-profit focused on eliminating gaps that exist for youth.
“We work predominantly with folks from North Central Regina and our mandate is to work to employ young people to work with even younger youth from the community. They get paid employment working with our organization,” Brian Lewis, the executive director of Growing Young Movers and a teacher at Scott Collegiate, said.
The organization offers a range of mentorship after the school day ends.
“Hearing about funding such as this, we think about all the options of expansion as we continue to grow of offering more opportunities for young people,” Lewis said.
He’s hoping funding would potentially allow the organization to expand further into other parts of the city, offer different types of programs and open to weekend sessions.
In terms of gun violence specifically, Lewis said they hear about it on occasion from high school students.
“It’s not something we bring up with the little ones unless it’s brought up,” Lewis explained.
“We know it exists. We know that there’s a lot of challenges in this community but we also know that these young people have such strength.”
Ottawa also provided similar funding this week to the British Columbia Interior and the Fraser Valley region.