Out in the Open

Life after a gang: Saskatoon woman wants 'to know what it feels like to love myself'

Jorgina Sunn traces the drugs and gang involvement of her early adulthood back to childhood trauma and abuse, but she’s trying to take responsibility for the wrong she’s done.
Jorgina Sunn is now five and a half years sober, and tells her story in hopes of helping others. (Courtesy of Jorgina Sunn)

Jorgina Sunn first entered a gang in search of people like her.

"I found myself situated with a different crowd of people. People that were addicted, people that we hurting, most of us Indigenous," she says.

"We all bonded in this dysfunction and trauma."

She traces the struggles of her early adulthood back to abuse and tragedy she experienced as a child. She started partying in her teen years. But the drugs and alcohol took over her life.

"As a result of alcoholism, I couldn't hold a job down for more than three or four months."

She was selling drugs, partly to feed her own crack cocaine addiction. "I did other things, like shoplifting. I sold my body." She was homeless. She had two children who were taken away from her.

"The day came where I decided that I wanted to end my life… I called my brother to say goodbye," she says.

She remembers the day: August 21, 2012. Her brother intervened. The cops showed up at the hotel she was staying at. 

That was when she turned her life around. Jorgina is now five and a half years sober. She works with the Saskatoon gang-exit group Str8 Up, and tells her story in hopes of helping others. 

"I needed to get skills on how to forgive myself" for the harm her drug-dealing had caused, she says. That way, she could begin to forgive others for the abuses she had suffered.

"I said, 'I want to know what it feels like to love myself.'"

This story originally aired on January 14, 2018.  It appears in the Out in the Open episode "After Escape".