RAGS – Anti Gang, Anti Drug Conference March 14th and 15th at Fort William First Nation

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RAGSTHUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – For young people aged ten to teen, along with concerned parents, guardians, and interested community members, Gene Bannon is putting on a RAGS (Regina Anti Gang Strategy) Anti-Drug Anti-Gang Conference on the 14th of March (10AM to 4PM) and the 15th of March (10AM to 4PM) 2012 at the Fort William First Nation Community Centre located at 400 Anemki Drive.

The topic of the Conference is Intervention and Prevention on Gangs and Drugs.

There will also be a Drum Group, and a Community Feast hosted by the Fort William First Nation.

The Regina Anti-Gang Services (RAGS) project works with gang-involved Aboriginal youth and young adults living in the North Central neighbourhood of Regina, Saskatchewan. The primary goal of RAGS is to reduce criminal activities committed by young Aboriginal gang members. The program provides intensive support services to reduce involvement in gang life and to facilitate leaving gangs.

Youth in Thunder Bay interested in attending, and who need a ride can contact the Regional Multicultural Youth Council at 622-4666.

The RAGS program is supported by Public Safety Canada, National Crime Prevention Centre’s Youth Gang Prevention Fund (YGPF) and is delivered by the North Central Community Association, a not-for-profit, grass-roots agency dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of residents. The project began in October, 2007 and will be piloted and evaluated under the YGPF until March, 2011.

Based on the knowledge of the youth involved in street gangs in North Central neighbourhood of Regina, and the evidence for what works in addressing their needs, RAGS has developed 24/7 programming that includes the following specialized components:

Intensive Counselling

To help exiting gang members/youth develop daily safety plans, deal with crises situations/criminal justice supports/relocation/addictions and provide on the spot support/counselling when it is required.

Life Skills/Cognitive Skills

Programming to encourage and coach youth in positive, pro-social behaviour and personal skill development.

The ‘Circle Keeper’ Program

Designed specifically for female youth gang members involved in the sex trade, offering facilitated groups to address safety needs, addictions and provide connections to support and therapeutic resources.

Cultural/Faith-based Programming

Through First Nation/Aboriginal traditional circle practices that focus on mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual components of the life cycle as well as opportunities to explore diverse Faith-based experiences.

Gang Exit Strategy

Engages federal and provincial partners and builds expert knowledge on the appropriate methods of gang exit safety and programming including geographical relocation.

Outreach Program

Works in and around the community providing education and awareness to schools, community agencies justice programs including probation services, parole services and young offender programs.

Family Programming

Provides interventions, counselling, addictions education, and awareness and criminal justice system supports to the family members of youth participants.

Early results indicate that the RAGS project is reaching the intended population. Thirteen of the 31 youth participants (42%) reported that they were current gang members at the time of entering the program, and 22 identified that they had been gang involved during the past six months (71%). Of the 26 participants who provided data on their most recent involvement in the gang, five reported that they were leaders; fifteen said that they were influential core members, five were regular members, and one youth stated that she was a regular/peripheral member.[8]

Participants were involved in serious crimes. One-half reported being threatened with a knife; five said they had been stabbed at least once in the past six months; ten had been threatened with guns; and seven participants reported having been shot at least once during the past six months. Almost all RAGS participants reported having serious addictions issues, having abused drugs and alcohol most days over the previous six months.

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