CeaseFire could fight inner-city violence

GAIN made the Free Press today!

Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION

CeaseFire could fight inner-city violence

Initial results in Chicago show 45% fewer shootings

By: Bruce Owen

Winnipeg Fee Press / Ken Gigliotti Dr. Gary Slutkin created an inner-city violence-reduction initiative called CeaseFire in Chicago.

It’s called CeaseFire, and it’s worked so well in Chicago and other big American cities to reduce street and gang violence, the provincial government is eyeing importing it to Winnipeg.

The Selinger government on Wednesday brought CeaseFire’s architect, Dr. Gary Slutkin, to the province to explain it to about 50 inner-city community workers, justice officials and police officers who are part of the city’s Gang Action Interagency Network (GAIN). Premier Greg Selinger learned of the program and met Slutkin during a recent government trip to Illinois.

What separates CeaseFire from other crime-prevention programs is it’s based on a public-health model. Slutkin, a professor of epidemiology and international health at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and executive director of CeaseFire, came up with the idea in the mid-1990s after treating infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS in San Francisco and in Africa.
Slutkin, who is also speaking in Ottawa and Calgary, said CeaseFire works because by recruiting people in the community to work as outreach workers, it attacks violence more as a disease than as a law-and-order problem.

“We’re seeing it as an infectious process that people pick up from each other,” he said. “It’s a behaviour that other people model, and it needs to be interrupted and dealt with through behaviour change and health methods.

“That’s what we’ve demonstrated and proven can be done.”

The initial results of CeaseFire, an initiative of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, showed an average 45 per cent reduction in shootings in five Chicago neighbourhoods. Some neighbourhoods are now showing reductions of up to 67 per cent. Kansas City and Baltimore are two other cities that have adopted the program.

Slutkin said a similar program can work in Winnipeg and be tailored to particular neighbourhoods like the North End and the inner city, where aboriginal people have a disproportionate contact with law enforcement.

“Only an aboriginal can interact with an aboriginal just like an African American with an African American and so on,” he said.

CeaseFire community workers are part of the community and have a connection to what’s happening to act as “interruptors,” Slutkin said.

“Interruptors can intercept whispers of what is going on in the neighbourhood. For example, if someone was angry at someone else for looking at his girlfriend, or if someone owed somebody money or had been disrespected and someone was going to shoot or knife somebody else, we’d be able to pick up those whispers and be able to tell that person to not do it.”

Leslie Spillett, executive director of inner-city agency Ka Ni Kanichihk, said for a program like CeaseFire to work in Winnipeg, it would need dedicated funding for a long period of time.
She said many existing programs only see year-to-year public or foundation funding.

“You cannot do this work on a year-to-year basis,” she said. “This is a large investment, a large investment of resources.”

Slutkin said the program not only reduces violence but also the costs of paramedic and hospital care for the victim, police investigations, court prosecutions and prison sentences for the accused.

“When there is a knifing or a shooting, it’s extremely expensive to the taxpayer,” he said.


West Broadway 5ish Fun Run Where: Winnipeg, MB Date: Sunday, June 5, 2011 Time: 10:00am


WHY THE 5ish?
This is no typical 5km run! There’s only one place to cross the river on the classic Wolseley/Wellington loop and that’s at Omand’s Creek. Our route is about 5.5 km so it’s a little different and sure to be memorable. The 5ish is also raising money for a great cause and there will be plenty of food after you cross the finish line!

The 5ish starts at Mulvey School at the corner of Maryland Street and Wolseley Avenue. There is plenty of street parking and we are working with neighbourhood businesses to secure additional parking on their lots.

Click here to view 5ish route map

$25 Registration Fee (includes T-shirt and post-run neighbourhood BBQ)
Please note there is a $3 processing fee for registering online.

Proceeds from the West Broadway 5ish Fun Run will go to West Broadway Youth Outreach (WBYO), an after-school and summer recreation program for core-area children. WBYO works to create a safe, positive and fun environment that keeps kids off the street during peak after-school and evening hours. At WBYO, all programming is free and children have access to nutritious snacks and a variety of regular educational, athletic and creative activities.

Help us fundraise for WBYO by collecting pledges. Set-up a donation page online or and request a pledge form. A charitable tax receipt will be issued for all donations of $25 or more.

Race Kit Pickup:

  • Friday, June 3, 2011
    10:00am – 4:00pm
    West Broadway Youth Outreach
    203-222 Furby Street
  • Saturday, June 4, 2011
    11:00am – 3:00pm
    Running Room Kenaston
    1875 Grant Avenue
    Winnipeg, MB R3N 1Z2
    Ph: (204) 487-7582
    Click here to view map
  • Sunday, June 5, 2011 (Run Day)
    9:00am – 9:30am
    Mulvey School
    (Corner of Maryland and Wolseley

Participants of this event will receive a FREE T-Shirt!
Unisex Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, Youth XS, Youth S, Youth M, Youth L

Proceeds of this event go to the West Broadway Youth Outreach

Crime & Corrections – Myths & Truths

This report is a 21 page PDF document from the John Howard Society of Canada…

Crime and Corrections – Myths and Facts 01-web

John Howard Society Issues Press Release

For Immediate Release

Youth Gang Prevention:  Real Commitment Needed

The John Howard Society of Manitoba is calling on all parties to commit to planned, consistent and renewable support for Youth Gang Prevention.  This is of particular concern in Winnipeg, where five youth gang prevention programs have been facing the loss of federal funding for months.  Despite several last minute promises made by government in the media, current funding came to an end yesterday without any new funding in place. “Youth gangs and the issues they create have not gone away; and programs like these are still critically important.  But these programs need a long-term, sustainable commitment from government so that their workers can make commitments of their own to the youth and the communities they serve”, observed David Alper, Chairperson of the John Howard Society ofManitoba.  “As of today, funding has run out.  Even if money is put back in place in the future, every day the doors are closed makes the job of keeping kids out of gangs that much harder.”

“Without these programs, these kids will end up in the Youth Centre, and from there, move into the adult correctional system.  Why wait for that to happen?” Alper asks.

The John Howard Society is calling on all parties to make ongoing and renewable funding for community based gang prevention programs across Canada a top priority.   The average annual cost of each of Winnipeg’s five programs is about $150,000, and they serve up to 15 to 20 youth at a time.   By comparison, this is less than what taxpayers spend to keep two people in prison for a year.

“The math seems pretty clear.  Spend a dime now to keep a youth out of trouble, or spend a dollar to send him or her to prison once damage has been done and victims created” observed John Hutton, Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Manitoba.  “The Winnipeg programs have all demonstrated their effectiveness.  What they and programs across the country need is for the next government, whoever that is, to make a clear and ongoing commitment to adequately support youth gang prevention on a multi-year basis.”


For more info call:

In English – John Hutton, JHSM 775-1415 (315)

en francais – David Alper, 237-1818 (438)


October, 2006:             Youth Gang Prevention Fund receives Treasury Board approval, $33.6 million

May, 2008:                  Five Winnipeg programs up and running with some of this funding.

Funding set to run out January 31st, 2011 and March 31st, 2011

September, 2008:         Intensive evaluation of all five programs begins

January, 2011:              One Winnipeg program is wrapped up as funding runs out.  Some participants begin to get into trouble

February, 2011:            $300,000 Program Evaluation Report by Proactive Information Service complete

March 15th, 2011:        Prime Minister announces Youth Gang Prevention Fund renewal, $37.5 million

March 16th, 2011:        The process/funding for existing programs unclear, program coordinators have no direct confirmation


March 21st, 2011:         Budget Day

March 22nd, 2011:        The Office of the Minister of Public Safety announces bridge funding for the existing programs so they continue operating while new application process is made clear

March 24th, 2011:        Program coordinators have a conference call with the National Crime Prevention Centre and are given no such assurances.  More program participants begin to drop out.

March 28th, 2011:        Minister of Public Safety Toews announces $900,000 for the five programs was approved prior to government falling:  “The support we are announcing today shows that we are serious about reducing crime and providing at-risk youth with the tools they need to make smart choices.”

March 29th, 2011:        Programs still have had no direct confirmation, only informed through media.

March 31st, 2011:         Existing funding ends with no confirmation of new funding in place.  Fate of programs uncertain.

Yours truly,


Kate Kehler,

Assistant Executive Director

The John Howard Society of Manitoba, Inc.

583 Ellice Ave.

Winnipeg, MB

R3B 1Z7

(204) 775-1514 ext. 318

FAX:  775-1670

Anti-gang programs get funding reprieve

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2011 A4

OTTAWA — Community groups in Winnipeg were quietly celebrating Monday after getting a funding reprieve from the federal government on their youth anti-crime programs.

Dozens of at-risk kids were preparing to lose their support systems and at least 20 jobs were on the line in Manitoba alone when funding from the Youth Gang Prevention Fund was set to run out March 31.

But the five community organizations in Winnipeg that received funding from the YGPF got word from the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews Monday that they’d be getting bridge funding to keep their doors open.

“We were told not to lay anyone off,” said one community worker, who asked not to be identified.

The YGPF helped more than a dozen projects nationwide, with the five in Winnipeg sharing $3.1 million since 2007.

The program was set to expire next week but Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced March 15 it would be extended for the next five years with $37.5 million. His announcement excited Winnipeg operators of five programs but there were no details provided about who would receive the money and if any of the existing programs would be able to keep operating.

As a result, most of the programs were preparing to close up shop anyway, at least temporarily.

Now they’re not.

A Toews office spokesman told the Free Press Monday the government is developing a way to continue funding programs operating now so they don’t have to interrupt their operations.

The Winnipeg programs generally target youth who have already been in trouble with the law by offering help with everything from education and job training to food and housing. They also offer alternatives to kids who had turned to the street life, including sports programs and family dinners.

The programs have shown impressive success rates.

Last week, Leslie Spillett, executive director of Ka Ni Kanichihk, said none of the more than 75 teenage aboriginal boys who’d come through the Circle of Courage program had broken the law since joining the program.

— Mia Rabson

PM renews anti-gang funds

PM renews anti-gang funds

Will get $37.5M over five years

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday resuscitated a national fund to help keep kids out of gangs, just weeks before it was set to die out.

The Youth Gang Prevention Fund will be renewed with $37.5 million over the next five years, Harper announced in British Columbia. The fund was created in 2007 and was set to expire at the end of this month forcing the closure of more than a dozen anti-gang programs nationwide.

Four of the programs are in Winnipeg. A fifth received a reprieve last fall with funding from the City of Winnipeg.

None of the community organizations running those programs had any clue about the renewed funding until contacted by the Free Press. Officials were thrilled but cautious as it is still uncertain exactly how it will affect them.

“I’m shaking I’m so excited,” said Liz Wolff, program manager at New Directions.

New Directions runs Oasis, a program for refugees and kids aged 12 to 21 from wartorn countries who are already in gangs or are at risk of joining one and have already been in trouble with the law. Wolff said the program has 12 active kids right now and about 34 have already gone through it.

“The success with these kids has been unbelievable,” she said. “These kids have been able to turn their lives around. The recidivism rate is very low.”

But Wolff has no idea if the fund renewal means Oasis will automatically get new funding, if it will have to reapply or when it will find out.

As it stands now, five staff members will be laid off at the end of March and the dozen kids currently in the program will be turned away.

Leslie Spillett, executive director at Ka Ni Kanichihk is also thrilled but wary.

“I’m really delighted,” she said. “How it impacts us directly, I don’t have the detail.”

Harper’s announcement only gave the bare bones of the commitment. His office directed further questions to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Toews’ spokesman said further details will be announced “soon.”

The federal budget will be introduced March 21 and details on how the fund will be dispersed likely won’t come until after that.

Together the five programs in Manitoba shared $3.1 million over the last three years. They targeted youth who have already been in trouble and are in or are at risk of joining gangs.

Spillett said Circle of Courage has had tremendous success and a review shows none of the more than 75 aboriginal teenage boys who have come through the program have committed another crime.

“We’re keep young people out of the criminal justice system, we’re keeping children out of gangs,” said Spillett.

Spillett gave notice to five staff they will be laid off March 31 but has extended the lease on their property by one month in the hopes Ottawa would come through.

She said she really hopes they won’t have to go back through an application process but is glad the government clearly got the message these programs are valuable.

“This is a government that has listened to us,” she said.

NDP MP Pat Martin harassed the government for weeks to renew the funding and was happy Tuesday. But he said the government waiting until the last minute to announce when programs are shutting down and laying people off “irresponsible and reckless”

“I don’t understand this game of chicken,” he said. “Is there an intention to allow the programs to die out and start over? You don’t turn programs off and on like a light switch…