The chief of Fort William First Nation is telling gangs in her community and the city that “enough is enough.”
"We know they're here. We know predators do exist," said Chief Georjann Morriseau Monday morning at the Fort William First Nation where a workshop was being held for the city's youth on gangs and other dangers like drugs and alcohol.
Morriseau said the first step in tackling the issue is acknowledging the problem; the next step is to target the gang leaders.
"I'm going to say enough is enough. Don't prey on my kids anymore because my kids deserve a future. Don't take that away from them," she said.
City youth attended the presentation and Morriseau said it was an opportunity for children, parents and educators to get an understanding of the issues.
"I think the young people will walk away today with a more keen knowledge on exactly the types of peer pressure that are out there and the groups, peers, that are out there that are also preying on our young and vulnerable children," she said.
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Gangs often seem alluring to youth who feel displaced and are looking for a sense of purpose and belonging; Morriseau said they feel accepted by the gangs and often have a romanticized vision of gang life.
"Once you're in, you're in and the young people really need to see where the path of gangs and hatred and violence leads you," she said, adding they often lead to death.
The chief said giving youth alternatives like thought-out programming and services is the way to keep them away from gangs and other dangerous activities.
She said whether it's sports and recreation or a drop-in centres, youth need these avenues.
"Those are vehicles to carry these kids and say 'we're going to pull you from that. You do have somebody that cares, that you can trust, that you can rely and depend on,'" she said.
Morteesha Chickekoo was surprised to learn how young people are recruited by gangs.
The 14-year-old Pope John Paul II School student she thought the presentation was valuable and more students should learn about gangs and the dangers associated with them.
"If you know people who do it, try to avoid them," said Chickekoo.