THUNDER BAY – Guardian Angels Canada is moving to open, “Guardian Angels University” – adapted from “Homeboy Industries” in Los Angeles – and offering programs for helping people who other groups are unable to reach. “We feel if you invest in young people, they will start believing in themselves, and in their community”.
Hodgkinson says that solving the problems that the Guardian Angels are seeing is the new mandate for the Guardian Angels.
The Guardian Angels are asking for the City of Thunder Bay to endorse the Guardian Angels.
Guardian Angels Before Thunder Bay City Council
Councillor Frank Pullia thanked the Guardian Angels for coming before Council. Pullia, as the Children and Youth advocate is seeking to help work with the Guardian Angels.
Hodgkinson is also seeking an endorsement from the City of Thunder Bay and from the Police Service, and says will help the group continue to grow.
“Coming from the streets, I speak the language of the streets,” stated Hodgkinson.
“The most important area for the focus is to listen to the street people and find out what they need, I think we need to be asking the question of the people on the streets what they need.
The Guardian Angels are seeking to be added to the Crime Prevention Council. “You need people who are on the streets, understand the streets, and I want to be able to report to you on what is really going on,” said Hodgkinson.
Councillor Hebert asked why the Guardian Angels are located in downtown Fort William.
“It was just one of those things,” stated Hodgkinson.
Hebert commended the Guardian Angels on behalf of the people at Paterson Court for the good work that they have been doing.
Councillor Johnson asked about the Guardian Angels non-profit status. The Guardian Angels Canada are registered as a not-for-profit organization, and are depending on donations and funds from Hodgkinson himself.
Councillor Virdiramo asked why other Guardian Angels chapters under Hodgkinson have been closed. “They were trying to do things their own way, and the Guardian Angels in New York closed them.”
Virdiramo sought to present a motion to defer the endorsement of the Guardian Angels to Administration to find out what implications would come from that endorsement.
Virdiramo, who sat on the Police Services Board, also sought to find out what implications would come from Guardian Angels programs on other programs. Virdiramo asked the City Clerk what motion would be required to move to a deferment to get a report from Adminstration.
Hodgkinson responded that the “Big difference people respond to us is that we speak their language.”
Mayor Hobbs thanked the Guardian Angels who were present in the Chambers. Hobbs asked about what the Guardian Angels do world-wide. Hodgkinson commented that several Presidents, the Governor General of Canada, and the former Mayor of New York have endorsed the Guardian Angels.
In Thunder Bay the Guardian Angels are running an anti-bullying program for girls that includes learning how to de-escalate situation, and on learning life skills – this is a program currently at Lakehead Board of Education schools.
Hodgkinson commented that Mac’s Corporation has endorsed the Guardian Angels. “Their view is that we have such a strong presence and respect that the company believes that will help build community pride and respect in the community.”
Hobbs asked about potential liability issues with the Guardian Angels. “We have insurance, and we have a waiver program in place”.
Councillor Rydholm asked about ongoing financial costs. Hodgkinson told her that right now he is funding the Guardian Angels programs on his own.
Councillor McKinnon asked what exactly the Guardian Angels are seeking in an endorsement.
Hodgkinson stated that such a move would help the Guardian Angels in being at city events. “It would mean a lot to have the city logo on our uniforms”.
“We want to be on the same team”, stated Hodgkinson.
McKinnon asked if the Guardian Angels had attended the Drug Strategy committee, and if they had worked with the Zone Watch – Hodgkinson said “If we had the ‘thumbs up’ from the city it would be a lot easier and better for building opportunities in the city”.
Councillor Ruberto expressed concern over the Guardian Angels being endorsed by the city. “What happens in the worst possible scenario?”
“The safest way, I suggest if you decide the Guardian Angels are worth endorsing, that we sit down to ensure that the City is not liable”.
“The only time we have had trouble,” said Hodgkinson, “Was when we stopped people who were doing bad and trying to do bad things”.
Councillor Pugh speaking in Spanish, asked for a red beret. Pugh commented that putting the city logo on the Guardian Angels would be a first for the city and for many other groups.
Hodgkinson said, “We are on a mission, this is what I do, I am on a mission to bring change to Canada. I am taking it really serious”.
“I appreciate your seriousness,” stated Pugh. “I will however support the motion by Councillor Virdiramo to find out what implications there are for the city”.
Councillor Ch’ng asked about what the Guardian Angels would need from the City.
“I love my city,” stated Hodgkinson. “I want you to help me in making this city a better place, and have more people believe in our city”.
The motion to get a report from Adminstration from Councillor Virdiramo was passed by Council.