A Regina teacher who came across a violent gang initiation video online and recognized a former student being victimized, is reaching out to the teen.

"I know him, he's a good kid," Elaine McArthur told CBC News Wednesday, referring to the young man in the video, who she said is 19 years old.

The video shows a gang initiation ritual where a new member is subjected to a violent beating for one minute. 

'They start kicking him in the face and that's when he hits the ground.' —Elaine McArthur, on gang initiation video

"It was really heartbreaking and disappointing that he made that choice," McArthur said.

She came upon the video as she was surfing the internet and was disturbed at the brutality displayed.

"They stand him up, and the girls in the video are yelling, 'That was only 20 seconds, you have 40 seconds more to go,'" McArthur said, in describing the video. Subsequent to her viewing the video, the version with audio was removed and she was only able to save a silent copy.

"They start kicking him in the face and that's when he hits the ground," she said. "To see someone you know go through that is what affected me the most."

McArthur has reached out to the youth, through his family.

She learned that his relatives moved him out of Regina, in an attempt to avoid the gang.

She said she hopes the young man, and others like him, will understand that gangs are not the solution to a difficult life.

"You're going to be someone's stomping mat," she said. "You know, it's not what it's cut out to be. It starts with violence, and it's going to continue being violent throughout the whole time you're in the gang. And as far as I know, the only way to get out of a gang is through violence."

Youth seek 'family' in gangs

CBC News learned from a former Regina gang member that many young people are attracted to gangs because they seek a sense of belonging.

Rob Hurley was initiated to a gang called the Native Syndicate as a 16-year-old, after a life of bouncing from foster home to foster home.

Hurley, who left the gang four years ago, said watching the video McArthur found was disturbing.


Former gang member Rob Hurley, who was in the Native Syndicate for almost eight years, says young people are drawn to gangs for a sense of belonging. (CBC )

"It brings back memories from when I was in that guy's shoe," he said, adding the recruit wants "to be a part of something."

Hurley believes violent gang initiations are commonplace in Regina.

"It happens quite frequently," he said. "Every weekend."

McArthur said she views the gang attraction as the reflection of a larger problem: a disconnect between aboriginal youth of the inner city and mainstream society.

"There is a cycle of abuse and neglect that is happening," she said "And that's what these youth are growing up with. It's so frustrating."

Charges laid

Police in Regina told CBC News Wednesday that they have investigated the images on the video and six people are facing assault-related charges.

McArthur said she hopes gang recruits will realize the lifestyle will only lead to bad outcomes.

"They think, 'These guys are going to love me. They're going to have my back.' But in the end they don't realize half of them are incarcerated or in the ground," she said.


  • Video previously attached to this story has been removed over concerns for the safety of those involved.
    Mar 07, 2013 4:45 PM CT
With files from CBC's Joana Draghici