New data indicates Manitoba saw a major increase in homicides last year

New numbers from StatsCan show that Manitoba saw a 40 per cent increase in homicides in 2022. Edward Djan has more.

New numbers are showing Manitoba saw a dramatic increase in the number of homicides last year as some say more community-based resources are needed to reduce crime.

The numbers coming from an analysis by StatsCan show that Manitoba saw a 40 per cent increase in homicides in 2022, the largest rate increase compared to any other province.

For some, while the rate at which homicides increased is surprising, Winnipeg’s crime problem isn’t.

“Our city is getting more violent. We’ve had some incidents even here in the village, which I thought was a sleepy place,” said one Winnipegger CityNews spoke to.

Another said, “It’s unfortunate.  I’m right here on Portage just across the U of W. I live just across the street. I grew up in this area, it was always a good area to grow up in, unfortunately, it’s not the case anymore.”

The reason according to some like community activist Sel Burrows is due to a lack of strategies aimed at crime prevention.

“It’s disgusting, it doesn’t need to happen, we need to get the whole community involved,” said Burrows.

“The police are really good at catching whoever commits the crime, but we don’t want those murders and other crimes to happen. We need everybody, the city, the province and the neighbours. That requires some coordination.”

The analysis also found that Indigenous peoples and people of colour experienced higher rates of being victims of homicides.

“If we look at the homicides, and it’s not different from last year we just saw more of them, we see people who are marginalized, people who live in poverty, people who are homeless, we see people with mental health issues, with drug addiction issues,” said Michael Weinrath, a criminal justice professor at the University of Winnipeg.

In a statement to CityNews, Manitoba Minister of Justice Matt Wiebe said, “Our team is developing a comprehensive public safety strategy by speaking with local law enforcement agencies to understand how we can better partner with them to develop a strategy that addresses crime, holds people accountable but also addresses the root causes of crime.”

CityNews also reached out to the Winnipeg Police Service for an interview, but they declined.

“We’ve been told that if we put more money into policing, punitive criminal justice measures, and social control everybody is going to be safer. Now, we are seeing that is a pretty mythical way of thinking about safety,” said Kevin Walby, a criminal justice professor at the University of Winnipeg.

“I work with a lot of incarcerated people, there’s a lot of regret and remorse for engaging in transgressions like this. They say, ‘I wish there was an opportunity for me to do something different at that time in my life when I was getting caught up in that stuff.’”

The analysis also found an increase across the country in the number of youths accused of homicide, with 90 youths in 2022 accused of committing a homicide, compared to 33 in 2021.

“Support a lot of these organizations that are trying to help these people. That’s the sort of assistance that is going to pull us out of this dire trend that we have gotten into with violent crime,” said Wainrath.

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