The provincial government will be allocating $5.3 million in funds to communities facing increases in gang-related activity over a two-year period.
Another $2.6 million is being distributed to six B.C. gang-related prevention and intervention programs— that are based in Abbotsford, the Cariboo-Chilcotin region, and the Capital Regional District on Vancouver Island. The funding is to ensure these programs can sustain community engagement.
In 100 Mile, $173,361 will be allocated to the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre Society’s Youth and Family Navigator program. Another, $207, 795 will be allocated to the Cariboo-Chilcotin’s Child Development Centre Association’s Future Forward program.
“The Navigator program is something I have always wanted to see here in 100 Mile,” said Chris Pettman, the executive director of the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre. “There wasn’t much for youth programming. I could see there was a huge need for helping youth in our community – one being a youth navigator.”
These programs are to provide protective factors to adolescents who are at high risk of involvement in crime. Focusing on youth aged 13 to 25 with recent engagement in crime or gangs and teens aged 12 to 18, who are potentially at risk. Essentially, the navigator will engage with the youth in the community where ever they are – being school, on the streets etc.
“The navigator is there to help youth transition into adulthood with the proper support,” said Pettman. “If they are under 18 years old, we want to make sure they are connected with any services they might need. Usually, you can’t walk into one organization and get all of the help you need. Sometimes people need help being navigated where to go.”
The funding will be able to sustain the program for a period of three years. Pettman said they haven’t listed the position just yet, but are hoping to have found someone to fill that role by the end of May or beginning of June.
“Each program is slightly different but each is addressing the same issue.”
A second amount of $2.68 million will be allocated in 2019-2020 as part of the two-year contribution agreement. The federal government has allocated $214 million for provinces and territories through the Gun and Gang Violence Action Fund, of which B.C. will receive a total of $30 million over five years.