Former gang members from the streets of Los Angeles are in Saskatoon this week to work with STR8 UP at a two-day conference in Saskatoon.

'The community can help these men and women turn their lives around.' - Father Andre Poilievre 

STR8 UP is a group that helps young men and women liberate themselves from street gangs.

Father Andre Poilievre is the founder of STR8 UP. Poilievre said they’ve worked with Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles before, trying to bring the success of the L.A.-based program to the streets of Saskatoon.  

"The profile of a gang member in Los Angeles is similar to the profile of a gang member on 20th Street in terms of violence and addiction, prostitution, drugs and so forth."

Ex-gang members work together to change public opinion

That’s why they’ve invited the L.A. group here, to help the members of STR8 UP deliver their message of hope to people who work in fields like justice, law enforcement, and social services. Poilievre worries that too many people in Saskatoon believe that gang members are beyond reach.

"If we can shift that around and say if we look at these people in a different way and relate to them in a different way, the community can help these men and women turn their lives around," he said.

The two day conference 10,000 Healing Steps: Resilience and Community runs Wednesday and Thursday this week in Saskatoon.