Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Solutions-based program battles poverty

A North End program in Winnipeg is helping people break the cycle of poverty.
Urban Circle is an Aboriginal focused training program on Winnipeg's Selkirk Avenue.
The program helps its participants graduate and stay in the labour force, instead of ending up back on welfare.
Haven Stumpf, manager of Urban Circle and a former participant, said she is most proud of the changes her education has inspired in her family.
Her son completed high school and her cousins are now pursuing post-secondary.
Stumpf grew up on Alfred Avenue where her alcoholic parents neglected her and her younger brother.
"We would take the potato peelings out of the garbage, wash them off and we would deep fry them," said Stumpf.
'There were no role models in my life,'—Haven Stumpf
Stumpf left home as a teenager and sold drugs in hotels on Main Street to support herself.
At the age of 18, she was a single mother raising her son on welfare.
"There were no role models in my life," said Stumpf. "I didn't know no other way of life but to live on social assistance, where everything was provided for you."
Stumpf enrolled in Urban Circle to pave a better life for her son.
She said the job skills she learned from the program were essential, but learning about the residential schools her mother and grandmother attended had the biggest impact on her life.
"Wow, that's why my mother was the way she was," said Stumpf. "And that's what she did, [and] why she did the things the way she did. It wasn't my mother fault any longer, it was something taken away from her when she was a little child."
Stumpf was hired by Urban Circle as a receptionist and worked her way up to a management position. Now she is a homeowner, earns a good living and is proud of her new car.
'It wasn't my mother fault any longer, it was something taken away from her when she was a little child,'—Haven Stumpf
"The people that I've talked to that have gone to Urban Circle this is typical," said Shauna Mackinnon, who is doing her graduate thesis on aboriginal people who dropped out and went back to school later on.
Mackinnon said these people are dealing with the intergenerational impact of residential schools and poverty.
Besides raising self-esteem, teaching aboriginal culture and history makes them better able to cope with the challenges life throws their way.
"For them it's really significant, because it helps them make sense of their lives," said Mackinnon. "People have said to me 'until I could do that I [couldn't] move forward.'"
Stumpf said she was able to patch her relationship with her mom, who passed away a few years ago.
"We were able to make amends and we started practicing hugging and kissing each other just to say goodbye," said Stumpf.

I think this a GREAT program and am really pleased and encouraged to see something like this in the community. Aboriginals face soo many obstacles and challenges on their way to success. They face systemic discrimination every day. The social institutions (education, careers, law, etc.) are organized around a white, middle class perspective and ensure that whites succeed. As a white person, you have to actually try hard to fail, because the system is set up for them to succeed, not Aboriginals. Schools do not teach enough about Aboriginal culture and language and need to. Discrimination along with the reserve system and lack of activities, lead to poverty, addictions, crime, misconduct, etc. Aboriginals are overrepresented in Canada's prisons and are usually denied bail, convicted and sentenced more harshly than Whites. 

There should be more programs like this. They should also teach life skills, positive parenting, etc. 

By targeting poverty (one of the main factors contributing to crime), I believe we could see a reduction in crime in the long term, if more programs like this are implemented and are successful. If people are able to have jobs and schooling, they are less likely to commit crimes.  

Urban Circle Official Website
Poverty in Canada
Core Area Initiative
Crime prevention through social development
Strategic approaches to crime prevention
Manitoba report on Poverty
Urban Youth Adventures
Youth crime prevention programs in Canada
Poverty reduction in Canada
Poverty Reduction Strategy: Make Poverty History
Canadian poverty reduction strategy
CANADIAN Poverty Reduction Strategy
Poverty Programs in Canada
Manitoba Anti-Poverty Strategy
Vibrant Communities
Key Issues in Canada
Make Poverty History Flyer

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