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Saskatchewan leads country in gang homicides

Regina gang-related homicides triple in one year.

REGINA – According to a report from Statistics Canada that looked at 2021 homicide trends, Saskatchewan has the highest rate of gang-related deaths across the country — and the highest since comparable data was first recorded in 2005. This statistic takes population into account where Saskatchewan saw 2.12 gang-related homicides per 100,000 people, but it is a nine per cent increase from the year previous.

Regina also leads the country in homicide rates with 5.67 per 100,000, and the city’s gang-related homicide rate nearly tripled in 2021 over the previous year (3.03 as compared to 1.14 per 100,000 in 2020). This is well above the 10-year average of 1.10. Across Canada, police reported 184 gang-related deaths in 2021, making up almost a quarter of all homicides in 2021.

"2021 was without a doubt the worst year that Regina Police Service and the city of Regina has ever seen when it came to homicides," said RPS Chief Evan Bray. "We had 15 in the year, that’s the most we’ve ever had. For a city our size, that’s a big number." Bray also noted that street gangs in Regina are more loosely affiliated, adding a level of complexity as compared to the more hierarchical structure observed in organized crime.

Firearms continue to be the most common weapon used, with two in five homicides resulting from the victim being shot. Handguns were the main type of firearm (57 per cent) with Regina observing the highest firearm-related homicide rate (2.65) for the second year in a row, representing a 40 per cent increase from 2020.

"We are definitely seeing a swing in that regard," Bray said. "Five years ago, it  was prominently long guns, but we’re seeing the use of replica firearms and 3D-printed firearms."

National rates of homicide involving Indigenous victims also remains skewed at six times higher than non-Indigenous people.

"The level of victimization among the Indigenous community is of the highest in Canada," Bray said, adding that it speaks to the need to dig into root causes instead of addressing the symptoms. 

Overall, across Canada there were 788 victims of homicides in 2021, an increase of three per cent of the previous year.

“Despite these recent increases, homicides remained relatively rare events, as reported historically,” noted the report. “They accounted for less than 0.2 per cent of all police-reported violent crimes in 2021.”

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