Dre’s Success Story

Dre came to live at the Youth Lodge (YL) after being picked up by the police in a raid of a relative’s home. Supervised housing was his only alternative to prison. At 17, he is no stranger to the justice system, having completed multiple sentences. As Dre tells it, “I’ve been on probation since I was 12 years old.” He got off to a rough start in our house, including an incident in which he sprayed a fellow resident with bear spray because the other resident stole pizza off of his plate.

Dre said the staff at the Lodge started getting through to him by treating him like an equal. They taught him how to play chess, took him to his first movie in cinemas, and spoke to him with respect. One of his favourite activities to this day is going on a nighttime car ride with a staff member after a hard day. “I talk to them a lot, I open up to them. When I have problems they’re understanding,” Dre said.

His positive relationships with staff helped him inside and outside of the house. Dre said, “They’ve changed me a lot, I’m more civil too. I’m able to de-escalate problems more.” He started regularly meeting with his Parole Officer, Ministry of Social Services worker, and counsellor. He took an interest in schoolwork, thinking more about what his future might look like. Dre said these changes were inspired by the environment created at the lodge: “I love this place, I tell the other boys to not bring problems here. This is my little safe space. When I go outside those doors I have to worry but in here I can just chill out.”

After 15 months of a clean record, Dre got picked up by the police with a handgun this spring. He hadn’t re-entered the gang he was raised into but he was still trying to defend himself against that life. “Before [YL], I just wanted to die out there — get killed or kill somebody, that’s how it was. I didn’t have nobody,” Dre said. When he got picked up with the gun in the middle of the night, the YL staff showed up for him in court at 10:30am the next day. “I would be in jail right now if it wasn’t for them advocating for me in court. That made me look at how lucky I am. They’ve always supported me,” Dre said. He is still waiting for sentencing but he knows that even if he goes to prison, he has a home at the Lodge when he’s out. That fact keeps him going: “If I do go to jail and then I get out I’ll do better because [the YL staff] said I can come back.” With the progress that our staff had seen with Dre, there was no chance they would give up on him.

“The main things I changed for is my younger siblings and Quint. I was just going to sell drugs and guns my whole life but then here I got my first full-time job and I’m doing good, making friends,” Dre said. Last summer he had a great time working for a roofing company and if all goes well, he will be able to accept their offer to come back this summer. Once he finishes Grade 10, he plans to go to Saskatchewan Polytechnic for welding. He has a few more dreams after that as well. Inspired by travel photos sent to him by a former YL resident who successfully transitioned out, Dre said “Maybe one day I’ll go see the mountains.”