Darcy Belanger has tried to find a sense of family in some dark places, his mother was 15 when he was born and deep into drugs and alcohol, she couldn’t care for her six children and so he bounced from foster home to foster home suffering abuse, negligence, and poverty. He turned to gangs for acceptance, and found it with the Indian Posse, one of Canada’s largest street gangs. This life of gangs, drugs, alcohol and violence eventually landed Darcy in jail on a 2nd degree murder charge where he would spend 8 years. He was eventually released and would only be out back in his old life for 8 months before being sent to jail again on another charge. But this time he had something to think about, his girlfriend was pregnant with his child.
This was the motivation he needed to decide to change his life; he took advantage of all the resources available to him. He finished high school. He got his learner’s license. He got his first job, and his first paycheque — all while in prison. He put in the work and now Belanger has been out of prison for a year. Though he has not done all of it on his own, and he has finally found the sense of family he was looking for all those years. One of the people who’s helping him transition out of gang life is Mitch Bourbonniere, Program Director with OPK – Ogijiita Pimatiswin Kinamatwin. One of the programs Bourbonniere runs is aimed at helping former gang members turn their life around.
With Mitch’s help young Darcy, who is still only 30, is finishing up a college course in business and digital marketing, has his full license, and can be with his own family including his two year old daughter. He also feels drawn to working with kids which he hopes to do by helping at Circle of Life Thunderbird House as a volunteer. His is a specific goal — to help them turn away from the gang life.
This young man was able to take a dark and dangerous path and turn around on it; now he can help others avoid the trials he faced with his experience and he has the support he needs to continue his new path thanks to the good works of others. There are many who could use such help across Canada and, fortunately, there are many who have the ability to offer it.
If you would like to know more about Darcy or Mitch you can find it in your Good News Story of the Day here.
Story and Image from CBC.