To help vulnerable young people avoid gang and criminal lifestyles, the Province is providing more than $486,000 in grants to fund mentorship programs in 24 school districts around British Columbia.
Administered through the School District Mentorship Grant Program, this funding supports school districts to develop local programs and initiatives for youth who encounter gang recruitment. Students will receive coaching and mentoring with a focus on building stronger and positive connections to community, culture and relationships.
“We need to work together to make sure young people are knowledgeable and resilient,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “By supporting our schools and investing in early intervention and prevention programs, we’re addressing the root of the issue and diverting vulnerable youth from joining gangs in the first place.”
Programs will be delivered within respective school districts in partnership with educators, non-profit organizations, Elders, counsellors and others. Many of the school districts will also deliver culturally supportive programs to young people, as well as programs to vulnerable Indigenous youth. Examples include:
- Delta School District: intervention and counselling with youth at risk and families;
- Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District: one-on-one mentorship and cultural support to assist youth at the highest risk of being recruited by a gang or who are currently gang-affiliated; and
- Peace River North School District: youth care workers will provide mentorship and counselling to at-risk youth, as well as positive group activities.
“Our government is committed to working together with education and community partners, Elders and counsellors to provide youth with brighter futures and end the gang violence threatening our communities,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “These important new mentorship programs are another way government is working to ensure all B.C. students receive an education free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation and, most importantly, violence, for generations to come.”
The School District Mentorship Grant Program was developed by the ministries of Education and Public Safety and Solicitor General as part of the Erase strategy, an education-based anti-gang program. The Erase program also carries out analysis of concerning or risky student behaviour, educator training, identification of local resources for support and school district capacity building.
For students worried about something at school or in their personal lives and interested in letting an adult in their district know who can help resolve the situation, visit: www.erasereportit.gov.bc.ca
To learn more about the Erase school-based gang and gun prevention program, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/erase/school-safety
To learn more about Erase strategy resources for students, parents and education professionals, visit: www.erase.gov.bc.ca
To view gang prevention resources for parents, visit the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C. website: www.cfseu.bc.ca/end-gang-life