The Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge. (The News files)

The Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge. (The News files)

New program offers hope for those imprisoned in Maple Ridge

BladeRunners will train those transitioning back into community with employable skills

A new program helping at-risk youth find employment within in-demand fields will be available to those in Maple Ridge.

BladeRunners is a provincial program that will help those transitioning back into the community, including youth incarcerated at Fraser Regional Correction Centre, gain skills to find new career opportunities in areas like construction, culinary arts, health care, retail, hospitality, and office administration.

The program, that is open to those aged 15 to 30, will not only help them build life skills, but participants will receive mentorship and other supports to help them participate and succeed in the program.

BladeRunners is facilitated by the John Howard Society of the Pacific Region, who received more than $1.3 million in funding over three years to offer the program.

“Our government knows that helping people overcome barriers and creating opportunities for at-risk and unemployed youth to succeed benefits everybody,” said Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission.

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“The people who run programs like BladeRunners do such great work in our communities, and this funding will help ensure it can continue over the next three years,” he noted.

Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, said the program is more important than ever after the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This multi-year investment will mean BladeRunners can continue helping at-risk and unemployed youth transition to a more stable life, offering tools that will help them pursue their passions and a healthy and happy future,” she added.

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In total, the B.C. government will be allocating $18.6 million over three years to the program that is being delivered by 11 organizations serving 50 communities across the province. More than 4,000 young people are expected to benefit from it – 65-70 per cent of those who are anticipated to be Indigenous youth.

The BladeRunners program began as a pilot project in 1994 to address the needs of at-risk youth on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Those youth facing multiple barriers to employment can get more information at the BladeRunners website: workbc.ca/employment-services/labour-market-programs/bladerunners-program.aspx.


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