Guardian Angels Mission Shifting in Thunder Bay
THUNDER BAY – CIVIC Politics – At Thunder Bay City Hall, on October 19th, Guardian Angels leader Ian Hodgkinson presented a deputation to Council updating the City on what the Guardian Angels have been doing in Thunder Bay, and what they are doing in Canada.
Guardian Angels Deputation:
My name is Ian Hodgkinson. For over twenty (20) years I ran the Guardian Angels program in Mexico City. I have spent countless hours dealing with people from very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. The level of violence, abuse, peer pressure, drug and alcohol use and abuse prevalent on the streets in Mexico City was immeasurable. As a result, out of fear for the safety of my child and what she faces in today’s society, I decided to return to my home town of Thunder Bay.
In my decision to return to Canada, it became apparent that the same issues that exist in Mexico City – homelessness, substance abuse and crime – are also prevalent in Thunder Bay, only on a smaller scale. As a result, I felt that my experience dealing with the same issues in Mexico City was a valuable asset that could be utilized by the Thunder Bay community. In January of this year, Guardian Angels Canada was incorporated. It is a non-profit organization that is made up of dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of the people of this community.
The mission of Guardian Angels Canada is to provide a safe and better environment for all of the people of this City. The goal is to be a visual deterrent to crime and to encourage citizen involvement. We patrol to get out and meet people in the community, to educate them, cooperate with them, and assist them in addressing their safety concerns.
The original and main Guardian Angels activity is community safety in which members walk the streets and are a visual deterrent to crime. The Guardian Angels are uniformed to represent the organization and they are trained in first aid and CPR, human rights, communication, conflict resolution and basic martial arts to handle situations that could arise if confrontation occurs. The safety and protection of a Guardian Angel is the main priority of the organization.
I am enclosing for your information and reference are the following documents to assist you in understanding the objectives and goals of Guardian Angels Canada:
(1) Guardian Angels Canada Business Plan
(2) Guardian Angels Canada Human Rights
(3) Guardian Angels Canada Patrol Manual
Since January, the Guardian Angels Thunder Bay Chapter has patrolled various communities and events in the City. In these few months, we have seen the City’s most vulnerable – women, aboriginal persons, racialized groups, persons with disabilities and those that are socially and economically disadvantaged. We have also seen that homelessness that is usually associated with substance abuse is prevalent.
We understand and recognize that the City has designated agencies and service providers available to provide support and accommodation to those in need, however we also see that most, if any, are not willing or are unable to access these services for whatever reasons. The homelessness and substance abuse issues on the streets in Thunder Bay are exceeding epic proportions and despite all of the services that are available, very few individuals, if any, are seeking or reaching out to access services that are available.
Throughout our safety patrols in the City, particularly in the Victoriaville Business area, we have encountered and provided comfort, first aid, sought police and medical assistance and have become familiar with many of the individuals that frequent the area. We are approached regularly and many have expressed that they would like our assistance. We have talked to them face to face; we have seen the pain in their eyes; we have seen depths of despair in their souls.
By the unique nature of our patrols, the Guardian Angels Canada has the ability to establish trusting relationships with many of these vulnerable, socio-economically disadvantaged individuals. We believe that by establishing trusting relationships that we can assist many to access the appropriate support systems that are available in the City.
It is the vision of Guardian Angels Canada to be part of an integrated community-wide approach in response to the homelessness and substance abuse issues that the community faces. It is our goal to empower individuals to address their problems and thereafter maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle. The Guardian Angels embrace all those that seek help and it is our mission to provide hope, training and ongoing support for many to redirect their lives and become contributing members of community.
We believe that the presence of the Guardian Angels on the streets and our ability to establish trusting relationships can effectively help to break down barriers that exist in the community. For these reasons, Guardian Angels Canada respectfully requests the Mayor and City Council to recognize Guardian Angels Canada as an organization in the community that is committed to promoting safety and being part of a team-based approached in providing assistance and support to those in need.
Yours very truly,
GUARDIAN ANGELS CANADA