It was a new and welcome sight in North Central Regina this weekend as a group of people dressed in bright orange vests began patrolling the streets on Friday and Saturday night.
White Pony Lodge is a community initiative dedicated to being a positive presence for change in a neighbourhood where violence and crime often dominates the headlines.
“We want to approach things in a more positive way, and we don’t want to be abrasive coming in or anything like that, we want to show that we support and we care about our community,” explained organizer Shawna Oochoo.
She says the group had 16 volunteers for the first patrol and 10 the next night. She said many others came out to show their support ahead of the first patrol that ran from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday night.
“It’s because they want to see a change within the community, they want our community to be more safer and more connected,” she said, describing the motivation for many of the volunteers.
On the first two nights, Oocho said the group stopped to help one driver whose vehicle was stalled in the middle of the street. They also found a few dirty needles which they properly disposed of. She said their objective is not only to reduce violence but to help in other positive ways.
Oochoo says the response has been overwhelming and it was amazing to have people come outside of their houses, honk while driving by, or stop them on the street to say hello and thank the group for what they are doing.
“We also had a lot of feedback from just people, the community members who live down here who are like ‘you know, this is a great initiative, great job guys,” she said.
The family of Kelly Goforth came out to support and even joined the patrols on Friday. Goforth was found murdered in Regina in September 2013.
“We were very honoured to have them a part of the patrol, they felt that this was something that needs support because it’s definitely something that’s needed in the community because we do have a lot of indigenous women who are out here who can be hurt or harmed,” Oocho explained. “So this was something they wanted to support and they wanted to see within the community.”
The family of Mekayla Bali, who went missing from Yorkton in April this year, also came out to show their support and to raise awareness about their daughter’s case.