On Dec. 17, the provincial government announced it would distribute $450,000 to a variety of Manitoba communities through the Proceeds of Crime Fund to help deter illicit activities.
While most of the recipients of this money were police agencies−including RCMP detachments in Norway House, Thompson and God’s Lake Narrows−the province also set aside $25,500 for Peace and Prevention Community; a local activist group that debuted back in May 2018.
Stephanie Third, one of the lead organizers of Peace and Prevention, said she was “shocked” when she heard the news, since she wasn’t even sure if they were on the province’s radar.
“We weren’t a very well-known, long-time established group,” she said. “In my head I really thought, for sure, that we were just going to be planning the steps to be more legitimate for maybe the next grant we applied for.”
Peace and Prevention was founded by concerned citizens like Third this past summer as a response to a string of petty crimes that many residents blamed on delinquent youth.
Even though this organization was originally conceived as a neighbourhood watch group, Third said they gradually started to focus more of their energy on organizing free family events that would help provide these kids with an alternative to committing crimes.
This public outreach eventually convinced RCMP Const. Sandy Deibert to submit an application for the Proceeds of Crime money on Peace and Prevention’s behalf this past fall, since they were already putting these events together on a shoestring budget.
“I was looking for a group that I could impact with some funding and I knew about these guys because they’d contacted us when they started up last spring,” said Deibert. “I know they had run a very successful function at MacLean Park in the summer. Really successful. They had 70 families attend, which is outstanding.”
With this new funding in hand, Third said they will be able to put together multiple events throughout the year, especially during the cold winter months when families are usually in search of inexpensive distractions.
“We really wanted places for families, kids, youth, teens to go have fun, get some free food, just have something to do that is free in the winter that is indoors,” she said.
Following a Jan. 12 meeting with fellow Peace and Prevention members, Third told the Thompson Citizen that one of their first projects of 2019 will be a co-sponsored event with the Thompson Crisis Centre that will take place sometime in February.
“I guess they didn’t have funding to continue on with their family dance that they hold every year,” she said. “So we’re just going to go ahead and help them promote it and we’ll just sponsor it really and pay for it and be there to help them.”
Outside of reintroducing their neighbourhood patrols this coming spring, Third said she is also looking forward to collecting some solid data on Peace and Prevention’s activities that will help them nab the Proceeds of Crime funding next fall as well.
“Hopefully, when we look back on the stats later on in the year, we’ll see whether that had any affect on deterring crime,” she said. “Did less youth that weekend commit crimes than they did last year when there wasn’t an event? We’re going to try to see if it helps at all.”
The province also dedicated an additional $42,886.96 to help fund similar projects through northern RCMP detachments.
For example, Thompson police will use their $23,604 grant to utilize the province’s StreetReach teams, who are dedicated to locating and returning at-risk kids to their families.
Meanwhile, Norway House ($7,282.96) and God’s Lake Narrows ($12,000) RCMP will be using their funding to start a taekwondo program and a healing camp for people facing addictions issues, respectively.
To learn more about Peace and Prevention Community, please join their Facebook group.