Ex-gang members become role models to encourage youth to not go down the same road

A group called Four Sacred Hearts travels to schools in Winnipeg, and First Nations throughout Manitoba, teaching students to avoid the mistakes they made. Mike Albanese has more.

By Mike Albanese

Four ex-gang members who have all turned their lives around, now speak at schools in Winnipeg, and in Manitoba First Nations. They’re trying to ensure that youth without role models don’t go down the same paths they did.

“I didn’t know I had trauma. You know? I didn’t know I was born with trauma and growing up I just always wanted to be a gangster,” said Tim Barron, Four Sacred Hearts member and Canadian Indigenous addictions councillor.

“I’ve caused so much damage in Winnipeg, and you know it’s time to give back.”

Barron is about to graduate college. In his past, he beat people up for his gang.

“Doing things like that to other people and just random people on the street too that I didn’t know. I eventually just got caught and thrown in jail and really the people that were there for me. The only people that were there for me were my family. None of these other guys were there for me,” he explained.

Tim Barron, a Four Sacred Hearts member holds his hands together.

He says he was lucky he had his family to help correct his path, but knows others don’t, which is why he says it’s important that he and his group are there for youth now.

“Tim was a traumatized little boy still, even though I was an adult doing these things I was just very traumatized inside. I didn’t know how to live, I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t know how to be respectful to other people,” said Barron.

CityNews was supposed to follow the group’s trip to Ebb and Flow school on Monday, but the unthinkable shut the school down. A shooting on the First Nation.

RCMP charged a 24-year-old with nine offences including aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon.

“We should be out there even though the shooting happened,” said Barron.

Left to right: Terrence Morin, Jeremy Raven, Tim Barron and Glen Hondz.

RCMP are still searching for the 24-year-old, but Barron and his group say this kind of violence is the exact reason intervention in schools is so important.

“It’s needed for people to hear, families, for the youth especially. There are things that I’ve lived through, that I went through, and sharing that there are resources, there is help, and that there are people that are walking a different way, that are trying to heal others,” explained Terrance Morin, a Four Sacred Hearts member.

Glen Hondz, a Four Sacred Hearts member, adding, “If I had a better role model, it would have made a big difference in my life you know? These guys are my role models now and it’s making a big difference.”

The group’s next school visit is AT Gonzaga middle school in Winnipeg’s north end in early March. They’re developing self-care and safety plans for the students, to help them learn how to remove themselves from bad situations before they even start.

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