|North Battleford, Saskatchewan - photo Creative Commons|
This week city officials, police, and residents teamed up to expand their crime prevention and community development work. SafeGrowth training is now underway in a range of projects throughout the city. As well, representatives from three other nearby northern cities joined the training - the cities of Lloydminster and Prince Albert in Saskatchewan and Red Deer, Alberta.
|SafeGrowth training class - photo Steve Woolrich|
I grew up in a northern Canadian city and I have a soft spot for the people who call them home. The best northern places boast a strong sense of community, industries like mining and lumber with well paying jobs, and outdoor adventure activities in unspoiled forests. The worst northern places suffer high unemployment with boom/bust economies, social unrest, substance abuse and the high crime so often accompanying that social dysfunction.
|Walking out to winter parking on the morning commute to SafeGrowth training|
There was recently a somber reminder about the seriousness of crime prevention work in northern communities. One week ago in the small aboriginal town of La Loche, 300 miles north of North Battleford, four people were gunned down in a multiple murder - two were teachers at the La Loche high school. A few years ago a gang shooting killed one resident directly across from the La Loche RCMP police detachment.
Perhaps lessons from the SafeGrowth work in North Battleford will ripple out to other northern communities suffering violence and crime like La Loche? We can only hope. Clearly, there is much work to be done!