The founder of a Los Angeles gang outreach program who is in Saskatoon for a conference believes the community is stronger than any street gang.

'Damaged people will damage people' - Father Gregory Boyle

Father Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries.

Boyle said helping young men and women in Saskatoon leave street gangs and turn their lives around must involve everyone.

"The only context, in which you can really, you know, deliver these services, is in the context of a community that's accepting and non-judgmental.”

Local gang outreach group needs help 

Boyle said work is already underway in Saskatoon, thanks to local gang outreach organization STR8 UP.  The organization has been working for years in Saskatoon to help people escape the criminal lifestyle of street gangs.

Father Gregory Boyle

Father Gregory Boyle is the found of Homeboy Industries. (Courtesy of Homeboy Industries )

"It's a sense of community and it's the place in which you engage this journey of healing and I think it clearly works," said Boyle.

Boyle and members of Homeboy Industries have travelled to Saskatoon to help STR8 UP change public perception. Organizers of the two-day 10,000 Healing Steps: Resilience and Community conference worry people who work in fields like justice, law enforcement and social services consider gang members to be beyond reach.

Boyle said that opinion must change, and that Saskatoon must create an environment where gang members feel safe and welcome. He believes it is the only way to break the cycle of violence.

“Damaged people will damage people. So unless you transform your pain you just keep transmitting it.”