Yukon justice minister Tracy-Anne McPhee speaks at a press conference at the Yukon Legislative Assembly in Whitehorse on March 6, where officials announced that the federal government would be giving the Yukon $2.25 million over five years to combat gun and gang violence. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News)

Yukon to receive $2.25M over five years to fight gun and gang violence

MP Larry Bagnell and justice minister Tracy-Anne McPhee announced the federal funding on Mar. 6

The Yukon will be receiving more than $2.25 million from the federal government over the next five years to investigate, disrupt and prevent gang and gun violence in the territory.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell and Yukon justice minister Tracy-Anne McPhee made the announcement at a press conference at the Yukon Legislative Assembly March 6.

The Yukon will receive a total of $2,250,735 from the federal Gun and Gang Violence Action Fund. The money will be put towards initiatives like funding the Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) Unit, a branch of the territory’s justice department that has the authority to investigate and shut down properties that are regularly used for illegal activities; outreach programs in communities; research into organized crime in the Yukon; and training for officials on how to prevent and disrupt organized crime activity.

The Yukon is also partnering with British Columbia’s organized crime unit to share information, “creating new capacity” at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and implementing a joint territorial intelligence unit that will allow for information-sharing across various levels of law enforcement.

“Right across the country, we’ve seen an increase in gang and violent gun crime activity. This is not just happening in big cities, smaller cities face this challenge too, as do rural, remote, Northern and Indigenous communities,” Bagnell said.

Although gun crime in the territory by incident is low, Bagnell said that the Yukon’s small population makes every incident more significant and is an issue that needs to be addressed.

McPhee said that the territory began seeing an increase in organized crime activity starting about a decade ago. She declined to name any specific gangs or recent gang-related incidents, but confirmed that there is active organized crime activity in the Yukon.

“This infiltration by gang activity is not unique to Whitehorse, it’s certainly in other places,” she said.

“Hot economies bring lots of activity including lots of money and the drug trade here in the territory is one of the things we’re seeing (that’s) being dealt with by organized crime.”

Gangs that are active in the Yukon are “primarily” from the Lower Mainland in British Columbia or from Alberta, according to McPhee.

“I guess geography plays a role, they like to be close to home and expand into the North, but it’s an across-North initiative, across-Canada initiative (to address organized crime activity),” she said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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