When I read the front page of the newspaper notifying us that North Battleford has once again been rated the number one city for the highest crime rate per capita. After reading it I thought to myself, “Why, after knowing this key information, would nothing change or improve after all these years of being rated the highest crime rate in Canada?”
My next thought was they either A) Don’t know what to do to improve the situation, B) They know but just don’t care or C) There are absolutely zero dollars given to fight this cause. If I had to take a hunch, I would presume option A. This is where my compassion comes in. I don’t believe the citizens of this small community want to continue to be remembered this way and I certainly know a majority of the people I have met here are hard-working, thoughtful, bright, funny and multi-talented (did I mention talented?).
Surely, we could tackle this, to at least see an improvement over the years, even if it’s slight.
Now, we reach the place where you begin to say, “well how are you going to do that? And, OK, let’s see you do it. You do it!” (With a lifted judgemental eyebrow lift as you laugh to your friend and shake your head). *eyeroll
I worked for a community program called the Assertive Community Treatment Team. They did outreach to people with severe and persistent mental illness such as chronic schizophrenia. They needed someone to administer, and watch them take, their medications. They needed people to help them manage their finances. They needed affordable stable housing, with access to psychiatric follow up. We don’t have such a service here and if we do, I sincerely apologize.
I also worked for a Corrections Transition Team, where we would help connect people being released from prison to mental health and addictions services. Most of them had no licence, no government ID and a criminal record so getting jobs was difficult. The only place they could stay was a shelter that was right in the hub where they used to use drugs. They had no fighting chance to get their life back, but the ones that really wanted to receive the help, did grasp onto an outreached hand. We helped them get their basic needs met so they wouldn’t have to steal to do that.
There are many other community mental health teams that I have not mentioned and I do believe that this would begin to assist this town to move forward, as the current resources are shockingly scant. I couldn’t believe it when I moved here, the lack of resources we have here and to think they were going to shut The Lighthouse.
Affordable housing for the disenfranchised is definitely a massive help. When people are not hungry, tired, stressed and neglected by society; they tend to fare much better and don’t need to steal to meet their basic needs. What other options are we providing them with? And that is where I’ll leave it with you today. What other options are we giving disenfranchised people; other than going crazy due to neglected needs or stealing to make a dollar to meet their basic needs?
As for the addicts who want to keep using and have no desire to quit and keep stealing to feed their addiction? Well, I’d rather the devil I know than the devil I don’t know and these services can help clearly document what’s been offered and rejected.
We also need a crisis call center to triage all the calls for people who are having a mental health crisis to access support.
Tiare Aubryn Fenrich