After months of hosting vigils for murder victims, a group of people in North Central is launching a partnership with a Winnipeg group to start patrolling the streets to help end violence.
Shawna Oochoo started the North Central End the Violence campaign after helping to organize a vigil and rag-tie ceremony for the first murder victim of the year.
“We had about 150 people come out and attend and we saw that there was need but also that people wanted to see change,” she said.
Now she is running a group called White Pony Lodge that is dedicated to finding solutions and taking action.
After holding community meetings, a candidates’ forum and participating in a vigil for Andre Aubertin this week, she said the next step is to learn from the Bear Clan Patrol based in the north end of Winnipeg.
“We really liked what they were doing for their community and how they were going about it and we really wanted to try and bring that over and create a partnership with them to bring that over to North Central so we can have something for our community as well,” Oochoo explained.
Oochoo grew up in North Central and moved back six months ago. She said too many indigenous people are impacted by violence and that’s why it’s time to take action and leadership to change it.
“People have just had enough. They’ve had enough of living in fear within our community. They’ve had enough of seeing the violence within our community,” Oochoo explained.
She added that people in North Central are sick of the stigma and the label that is attached to the neighbourhood for being the “murder capital”.
“There are some good people who are doing some great things and I think the community has just had enough and wants to see change and wants to see the community go in another direction,” Oochoo commented.
She said the point of forming a community patrol group is that it’s inclusive and they listen to ideas from everyone.
“I really believe that indigenous people are going to lead the way on this because we’re starting to see a lot more awareness about who we really are and what our goals and values are as a nation.”
She said it’s important to show that community members care about the violence and are willing to stand up to support each other and help solve the problem.