Violence against men and boys increased over the last 5 years, report

By Mike Albanese

Men and boys in Canada are experiencing violence at a 12 per cent higher rate than they were five years ago according to a new report.

Matthew Willan is a former Winnipeg gang member who was not surprised to hear that violence has increased over the last five years.

“By the time I was 10-years-old, I had already seen people get hit with baseball bats, people get jumped, armed robberies, robberies with a machete, lot’s of violence for sure,” explained Willan.

“I wanted to emulate some of the people I saw doing these things, as I was a kid and looked up to them.”

Willan says he saw violence during his upbringing, and that lead him to join a gang and participate himself. The report contains police-reported statistics from 2021, and shows that Manitoba has the highest violence rate of any Canadian province.

The rate of violence against men and boys in Manitoba was 1,805 per every 100,000 males in the province. The rate for all of Canada is 1,015 per 100,000.

“Our province has a history of woundedness. There have been generations of trauma that has been passed down, and we’re feeling the effects of it today,” explained Mitch Bourbonniere, community outreach worker.

Bourbonniere sees violence perpetuated every day in Manitoba but says there is hope for change. Willan credits Bourbonniere with turning his life around, as he now hosts sharing circles in different schools around Manitoba, and was visiting youth at the Manitoba Youth Centre on Friday.

“I’m living, breathing proof that people can change and do change. Today I’ve devoted my life to helping the youth and trying to change the way they look at the world,” said Willan.

In Manitoba, the rate of violence against men and boys was about six times higher in the rural North compared to the rural South, and five times higher than what was documented in urban areas. Bourbonniere says one way to change this is by running community men’s groups, which he does, and says they’re extremely well-attended.

“We get men that are able to convey their hurt, their rage, their sadness, and their pain. Once they practice that with one another they can go back out into the world and in a lateral-kindness way. Change the narrative in their families and communities.”

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