Canada’s worst violent crime problem is in Thompson, Man. – by Shannon VanRaes (MACLEAN’S Magazine – November 19, 2019)

As the “Hub of the North” Thompson serves a regional population
of 55,000. The city’s airport is the second busiest in the province
and more than 40 remote communities—mostly First Nations and
Northern Affairs settlements—rely on Thompson for essential
services and commerce.

It’s the “machete kids” that worry Donnel Jonsson most. The property manager for Ashberry Place, a low-income apartment complex in Thompson, Man., has dealt with assaults, fires and even murder over the years. However, recent youth crime has him feeling unsafe, particularly along the city’s Spirit Way trail.

“Kids are going around and assaulting individuals walking the path, no reason why, they just come up to them and basically stab them or cut them across the face,” he says, pointing to a wooded section of trail below a 10-storey-high wolf mural.

This May, the city’s RCMP detachment indeed found itself investigating a stabbing spree that left five injured. In March, a machete-wielding home invader hacked a dog to death and in June, Thompson saw two stabbings and a machete attack in three days. August then saw a 30-year-old woman stabbed in the face and chest outside a downtown business. Some of those arrested were as young as 12 and many speculate the attacks were gang initiations.

For three years running, Thompson has held the unenviable position of Canada’s most violent city in Maclean’s ranking of the country’s most dangerous places. The finding is based on data from Statistics Canada’s crime severity index, which examines police data from all Canadian cities with a population over 10,000.

Thompson didn’t have the worst crime problem, in general—North Battleford, Sask. had the country’s highest overall index number. But the prevalence of violent offences like sex assaults and firearms offences in the Manitoba city, along with a rise in impaired driving and some drug crimes, pushed Thompson to No. 2 on that list, as well.

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