The message of working together was echoed loudly at a community meeting organized by a husband and wife in Williams Lake to address youth gangs and violence Thursday afternoon.
Ex-gang member, Pat Graham says the community has a long history of not trusting the RCMP and government.
“One of the problems is when we don’t trust the government and the people that are supposed to protect us, we don’t get any law and order because no one works together.”
“So the police have to step out and start trusting and working with us and be more familiar and friendly with us as humans and citizens of Williams Lake.”
“And we as citizens have to trust them and start reaching out to them and asking for help as well.”
Graham’s wife Erin adds that the City has lost the power of the people.
“The more that we voice here what we are trying to do here in our community, the more governmental support we will actually receive.”
“The less that we actually sit on our hands and get out there talking about it and getting out there, the less it’s going to happen.”
The large turnout which garnered comment from the sister whose brother was shot in a car chase on Western Avenue, to City Councillors Scott Nelson and Jason Ryll, also saw Cariboo-Prince George Conservative candidate Todd Doherty who has deep family ties in the Cariboo.
Some of the concerns expressed in the 1 1/2 hour meeting included individuals having criminal charges not being able to find work within the community, lack of mental health and recreational resources, landlords unknowingly renting to prolific offenders, the judicial system, and the effects of residential schools on First Nation communities.
Dave Dickson, with the Williams Lake RCMP, was the only member able to attend due to fellow officers having to address an incident.
When asked what the City is looking to take away from the meeting, Mayor Walt Cobb says it’s most importantly coordination to deal with the issues collectively rather than individually.
The Grahams say more meetings will take place in the near future, and add that if all things work out a block party may be in the works.