North Central patrol group disheartened by recent gun violence
White Pony Lodge has been organizing street patrols in North Central on weekends
A recent string of gun-related offences and the arrest of four boys over the weekend in Regina is exactly why one community group has been taking to the streets of North Central.
Beatrice Wallace joined White Pony Lodge, a group that patrols the streets of North Central to curb violence in the community, because she wants her children to feel and be safe.
Members of White Pony Lodge and volunteers have been meeting Friday and Saturday evenings for the past two weekends. Wallace has participated in the walks with her husband, children and brother.
She admits it was "disheartening" to hear the news that four boys, aged 13 to 15 were arrested following five gun-related incidents in a 36-hour window this weekend — all within North Central.
"The reality is a lot of our children are young and lost on the streets," Wallace said. "If there's a way that we can show that, you know, this isn't the only way, there's other ways. And I find that White Pony Lodge does that. We walk on the streets and youth walk with us. And just those youth see the change."
Engaging youth to create safe neighbourhoods
Shawna Oochoo, a coordinator of White Pony Lodge says the walks weren't created as an alternative to law enforcement.
"It's not so much about stopping crimes, or anything like that, as much as it is about being a healthy, positive, peaceful presence within our community," says coordinator Shawna Oochoo.
Oochoo says it's been an outlet for young people in North Central to be role models in the inner city. Anyone 16 years old and over can join the street team.
"Our youth need people that they can identify and connect with," said Oochoo, who's enlisted her daughter as a volunteer within the group.
For both Wallace and Oochoo the street patrols are one small piece of the puzzle needed to reduce crime and violence in North Central. But they try to focus on the positive things happening in the neighbourhood — and the street patrols give them an opportunity to safely walk through it.
"It feels really good just to see North Central not in the light that everybody else sees it. We get to see the kids playing outside and sit and talk with the neighbours and hear people — what they wish would change, and just being able to be that ear for them," said Wallace.