Ex-gang member mentors youth
Marc Bence/for metro edmonton
A man who once lived a life of crime as a gang member is now changing lives by helping young Aboriginal inmates find jobs and a place to live once they get out of prison.
Rob Papin, a member of the Enoch First Nation, joined a gang as a teenager, but says he turned his life around and went back to school when he was 24.
“I liked the violence and the money, but, in the end, I ended up with nothing and I didn’t like that feeling,” he said.
Now employed as a social worker, Papin assists the Stan Daniels Healing Centre in Edmonton to help turn Aboriginal youths away from the violence of street gang life in and
out of prison.
“I can’t help them if they don’t want to be helped,” Papin says. “But, in the end, I take a look at the chance that I was given from guys that have been there for me, too.”
Claire Carefoot, a director with the centre, said Papin also works with youths once they get out of prison to mentor them in leading productive lives.
Papin will help the troubled youths connect with an elder in their community, along with helping them get the confidence they need to find a job and a home once they’re rehabilitated after prison.
“He’s worked with a couple of guys who turned out really well, but it takes a long time and a lot of work,” Carefoot said.
“But we’re patient and we’re hoping to change some things.”
Sgt. Peter Bruni-Bossio, head of the Edmonton Police Service’s gang unit, says these types of programs do a good job of educating people about the dangers of gang activity.
“From my position, programs like these are beneficial,” said Bruni-Bossio. “Anything that involves prevention or can educate people about gangs is a good thing.”