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Tackling the roots of the rising homicide rates in Calgary through community awareness

By Julieanne Acosta, August 16 2022

2022 has marked a new beginning for most — with COVID-19 restrictions dropped, many have been able to go back to the way life was pre-pandemic. With that being said, with this shift in our world, the media has not focused on COVID-19 as often as before and people have started being exposed to news other than pandemic-related updates. For Calgarians, some may have noticed a spike in coverage of crime around the city. 

Specifically in 2022, gun-related violence statistics have doubled compared to the average over the past five years. In just the first six months of this year, the city has seen 63 shootings and by the end of April, Calgary had already reached its 11th homicide of the year — nearing close to last year’s number of 19.  

While its become clear that violence around the city is increasing, there has been a striking lull in awareness. Many of the violent crimes that have occurred this year have become nothing more than a daily piece of news — only to be replaced the next day. Those who have fallen victim to the rising crime rates deserve more than being the breaking news of the day — they deserve to have their death be a wake-up call to put more efforts into violence prevention. 

In 2021, a public safety task force outlined domestic violence, gang lifestyle, mental health, substance use disorders and trauma as the roots of violent crime in the city. They concluded that there were three actions to be taken: communicating information between the city and community organizations while advocating to other levels of government, applying for federal public safety funding and connecting programs with at-risk populations. 

The city is now putting $40 million, annually, towards community support services that are aimed to help the factors that lead to violent crimes and while this is a step in the right direction, further awareness of this issue is needed to secure help for those who need it. 

Community violence is influenced by social determinants of health such as economic history, bias, systemic racism, concentrated poverty, education and healthcare. A key factor to dismantling these social determinants of health is to actively involve all community members to ensure that the community is well-informed on not only what the city is doing to help but why the issue occurs in the first place.

Now that Calgary is going to be putting more funding towards community support services it is imperative that that money goes to where citizens believe the money is needed. Calgarians need to be informed of the community services available and kept up to date on crime prevention initiatives. With a community-driven approach, Calgarians will be able to voice concerns for their safety while providing their own ideas for preventative measures because they will be better equipped through awareness to form their own opinion.

This article is part of our Opinions section.

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