THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay’s crime rates have been dropping in recent years. However the city is also experiencing a year with a record number of homicides.
This is a city that all of us repute to love. We are fortunate to live in a city with, bluntly put, lots of things to be fully thankful about.
There are, however issues in Thunder Bay, just like any other Canadian or North American city.
There are many ways that Thunder Bay can become a better, more successful and more open and inclusive community. The first step starts with each person who calls our city home.
It means getting involved in our city, for many people, community engagement is a once every four year trip to the polls to vote.
Living in a successful community means that you should be attending community meetings, forums and events addressed by experts and people with personal experience more often to understand issues in the community to be better informed and be able to provide a person’s input.
There are opportunities across the community for residents to get more engaged and help.
Thunder Bay has issues with alcohol and drugs. There are several things you can do on a personal basis to help.
For example: Attend an anti-gang conference to understand the issues and volunteer to be on the anti-gang committee and awareness team.
Get educated about the variety of issues in the community. Pick an issue to support long term and volunteer to help reduce the issue.
Drugs and Addiction – If you are against illegal drug use and sales in the city join the drug strategy committee, the prescription drugs committee, citizens against gangs committee and stick with it.
The more people support an issue with time and donations the more awareness that is raised.
Identify your values, the leader you want to be and the community you want to live in.
If your values state you are against drugs, then you must leave a party where drugs are being used. It might be best not cave to peer pressure and stay at the party because you don’t want to offend people, feel like your causing trouble or you feel like you’re not being cool. Instead leave the party and don’t go to a party where there is illegal drug use and tell someone of authority there is drug use in the community. Volunteer to be on an anti-drug committee and stay with it long term.
Leaving a Positive Legacy – Understand the history of the community and Canada. Try to respect and raise awareness about the things we cannot change and change what you can to leave a legacy for all humanity to have a more positive community.
For example: If a lake used for drinking water was polluted by a mill and it’s causing people to become sick. Find out the laws and history as to why the mill was allowed to dump toxins in the lake.
You cannot change the fact the lake became polluted.
You can ensure the lake gets cleaned up by joining or starting an environmental stewardship program that ensures the lake never becomes polluted by lobbying the protection of the lake and you can help to get the lake cleaned up lobbying the mill to clean up the lake and helping them to do so.
Understanding the history of an issue can empower a person with knowledge, wisdom, understanding and empathy and you can be a better resource and asset to the community.
Attend vigils and walks: There is always more to the story then meets the eye and there are always two sides to every story. Try to stay objective and support what feels right in your heart.
For example: If you’re against the methadone clinics in Thunder Bay, find out why we have the clinics. Ask what you can do to help reduce effects of this problem in the community.
Support community initiatives already in place in the community.
Support the Respect Campaign and wear a Respect button.
Support the Anti-Bully Campaign by not being a bully yourself and bringing the program to your home, school or work place.
Promote the cause by modeling the campaign’s values in everything you do and say.
Also, volunteer to help implement programs in place. Most programs die out because there are not enough volunteers.
Really learn the community issues on an individual level, neighborhood, community, city, region, and province, national and global level.
Turn to Statistics Canada or Health Canada for statistics about an issue in the community. If neighbourhood crime is problem learn the facts, figures, and players of the city. The more informed you are about a subject the better understanding you will have to be able to identity and address the issue(s).
If you’re concerned about crime in your neighbourhood start a community program to help reduce crime.
Start a Neighbourhood Watch program. Stick with it long term. Crime doesn’t go away. When crime gets reduced it’s usually when crime increases.
Stick with a crime reduction or prevention program to ensure crime statistics remain reduce forever. Start a volunteer group with friends and family.
If you are concerned about an issue but need to balance your time spent between visiting friends and family and volunteering then ask your friends and family to join you in volunteering. You will be able to visit and bond with your friend or family member and share in the gift of giving.
Why not volunteer together for 2 hours a week at the local Shelter House and then go for coffee afterwards?
Ensure you are living and leaving a smaller footprint in life.
You might think you are not adding to crime rates in Thunder Bay. Not volunteering to reduce or stop crime impacts the community. Being negative and hostile towards people can cause greater community problems and leave a large footprint/impact.
Vote for the right people and ensure your family members vote too.
Vote for someone who isn’t afraid to go up against criminals and roll up there sleeves to reduce crime.
Be a mentor and learn what it means to be a true leader. Mentor whereever you can. Remember, youth will watch you and your actions.
That old adage that actions speak louder than words is key.
If you are smoking, drinking and doing drugs, no matter how much you might tell a teenager it is wrong, they are going to see right through your words to your deeds.
Volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, Children’s Aid Society or Alternative School programs to help youth at risk make better choices with their lives.
There are lots of things that each person can do. As each of us in our city gets more involved in making a positive difference Thunder Bay will become a better place for all of us.