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2014-04-10 at 19:49

Community effort

By Jodi Lundmark,
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Knowing your neighbours makes the community a safer place.

"In the neighbourhood, the residential area, crime is actually decreasing. We still have a long way to go but more neighbours are connected and know each other so I think that's really important to reducing crime," said Linda Bruins, executive director for Evergreen A United Neighbourhood.

Bruins was one of about 50 people Thursday evening at the inaugural Crime Awareness Walk for Victims, a Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services initiative to support National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

The group walked from city hall to the Evergreen building, the former Hells Angels clubhouse, on Heron Street to show victims of crime there is support available for them.

Once at Evergreen's headquarters, the walkers participated in an empowerment workshop led by the Community Arts and Heritage Project.

When she was asked to participate in the walk, Bruins felt it was important.

"For us to end at Evergreen's house, a former place of shame and stigma, to do a positive art workshop, seemed liked a really great way to gather all ages together and to say 'we're behind you ... We're all here working together to make Thunder Bay a better place," she said.

McKellar Coun. Paul Pugh also feels crime prevention is a community effort and said although people often rely on police to deal with crime, unless the community is involved, it is a hopeless task.

"I am heartened by growing signs the community is being involved as we see from the people here," he said. "That's how we're eventually going to make Thunder Bay a better and better city."

"We see children, adults, families taking pride in their own neighbourhood and being involved. That's what it's all about," Pugh added.

Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services chairwoman Christine Hettrick said the awareness walk was about bringing the need for victim support to the forefront.

Their volunteers are called to scenes of robberies, assaults, elder abuse and accidents to sit and listen to victims and then connect them with whatever support services they may need.

"Victims can feel marginalized in our community and I think it's really important to let them know we do care about what happens to them and there are support services for them," she said.

The Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services provided service to more than 400 victims in Thunder Bay and the district in the last year.

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