Credits: TOM BRAID/QMI AGENCY
Justice Minister Jonathan Denis announced Friday that 12 projects focused on supporting victims and preventing crime will share in the funding through the province's civil forfeiture fund.
The fund takes money from organized crime by selling seized assets — including vehicles and drug houses — and directs the profits to organizations like the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton, and the Maskwacis Victim Services Society.
"We're hitting organized crime where it hurts the most— their pockets," Denis said.
"What's most important to note here is that none of this money comes from taxpayer dollars. It goes towards community-based organizations that can prevent crime, but also can help people who have been victimized through no fault of their own."
The forfeiture fund has generated more than $4 million for crime prevention groups and victims of crime since its creation in 2008.
Steve Stakum, a counsellor with Maskwacis Health Service, said the fund is helping himself and fellow support workers respond more quickly to traumatic situations in the once street gang-infested community of Hobbema.
"A rapid response may increase the possibilities of success and reduce recidivism," Stakum said.
"The idea is to get to the situation before it scabs over."
For Elizabeth Darrell, a program co-ordinator with the Elizabeth Fry Society, the fund helps her foster positive lifestyles in local adolescent girls. The Elizabeth Fry Society runs programs that aim to help teen girls make healthy decisions and boost their self-esteem.
"With continued support and funding, we are able to reach out to more young girls and to help them build a strong foundation that not only helps them to survive adolescence, but go on to thrive and succeed throughout their entire lives," Darrell said.
Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Society of Edmonton, hopes the fund will help uncover the root causes of issues that have led to disproportionate numbers of Somali-Canadian youth being killed and incarcerated in recent years.
Denis expects the fund to grow in the future.
"I am very bullish on this whole program, and in the future I'm hoping we can even take more of a financial bite out of organized crime and place it towards good and right organizations," he said.