A community advocate is expressing concern over the number of homicides in Winnipeg so far this year.
There have been 20 homicides since the start of 2022 which has already more than doubled the number at the same time last year.
Mitch Bourbonniere, a community outreach worker with Mama Bear Clan and Downtown Community Safety Partnership, sees it as further evidence underlying factors of crime have a firm hold on some people throughout the city.
“Drug use, addiction, domestic violence. Everything’s on the rise and it’s leading to the kind of numbers that we’re seeing,” Bourbonniere said.
At this time in 2021, Winnipeg had seven homicides. This year the number of homicides is already sitting at 20.
“To hear that we’re not through May and we’ve got 20 homicides is absolutely heartbreaking, heart-wrenching, worrisome because those are families… that’s community… that’s all of us and our sense of safety,” Bourbonniere said.
Const. Jay Murray with the Winnipeg Police Service said most involve people who were previously known to each other but there are exceptions.
“There are still homicides that occur between people that are unknown to each other but they’re relatively rare,” Murray said. “Other than that we do see a lot of drug use or alcohol use involved in homicides.”
Murray said he doesn’t believe any of the 20 homicides are related and can’t point to one single issue that’s driving up the numbers this year.
However, he said gang activity has contributed to violence, including the number of homicides.
“A lot of homicides that we deal with start with disputes over the drug trade and that’s a reality of what we’re facing and there’s even violence beyond homicides,” Murray said, pointing to situations where people are seriously injured due to violence that doesn’t cause a fatality.
Bourbonniere has worked to help people get out of gang life but he said there’s much more work to be done.
“Just as a society, hone in on mental health and wellness and support and low barrier services for people,” he said. “That’s the answer.”
Winnipeg had 43 homicides in 2021 and a record 44 in 2019.
Police weren’t able to immediately provide a number on how many homicides this year have been solved.
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