On the heels of a major police bust this week, a local man previously affiliated with a Regina gang is sharing his experiences in hopes of deterring youth from entering organized crime.
Regina Police released results of a two month operation on Monday that resulted in nine people charged, some of them are allegedly members of the Native Syndicate gang, in connection to a series of violent crimes in Regina,
Jeremy Wesaquate used to have gang ties and sat down with Teri Fikowski to share his experiences.
Regina groups attempt to steer youth away from gang involvement
Regina gang members among those charged in ‘Project SHRED’ investigation
Q: Take us back several years how did you first got involved in gang activity.
A: Basically I fell into hanging out with the wrong groups of people and didn’t know how to live or anywhere to go for support. Now I’m just trying to get back into my culture and go to sweat lodges and ceremonies. Just trying to better my life so I can help other people.
Q: And this lifestyle led you to spend some time in jail?
A: Yes, I had a lot of friends and family go to jail too. I was just looking around the community and seeing a lot of families being hurt from people going to jail and needing more role models, so I figured the best thing to do was get my life together and start from there.
Q: You’ve also had family tragedy related to gang violence that made you decide to leave the lifestyle, correct?
A: Around 10 years ago I lost my father and that was a big part of wanting to change my life around.
Over the last 10 years it’s been an up and down battle but working with Open Sky Retreat, with sweats and getting back in my culture has helped me live a sober life.
Q: What was it like trying to leave – were you met with resistance?
A: It was more or less secluded and staying by yourself, right? Staying away from negative peers and negative things I guess. Just trying to be secluded by yourself and your family and that’s how it’s been for the last little while, but I’m kind of been getting back out there and meeting new people so it’s getting a lot better.
Q: One of your motivators is your daughters – tell us about that.
A: My first born, she’s six years old now, and as soon as I had her I decided, ‘enough is enough.’ So, I quit using drugs, put that down and got involved in the culture. I’ve been working with elders and Open Sky Retreat and it’s been great. Life’s going a lot better, things are working out.
Q: What would you tell maybe youth now? Perhaps someone in that situation where they might be getting involved in a gang or they’re involved and wanting to leave. What would you tell them from your experience?
A: Just not to give up on themselves and know there is help out there. To believe in something that’s greater than themselves and that there’s help for them if they want it, but they have to have to want it for themselves.
Q: What is some of that work you are doing now?
A: I’m working with Open Sky Retreat with sweat lodges and ceremonies. I’m planning on doing some motivational speaking with ‘Straight Out of North Central’ with Shawna Oochoo and White Pony Lodge.
Digging Deeper – Sask. budget
Digging Deeper – Sask. budget
Digging Deeper – Emergency notifications at your fingertips
Digging Deeper – Activist fighting back on crime in North Central
Digging Deeper: The Peachy Printer Kickstarter scandal