For some people, tattoos can be a painful reminder of a past they'd rather forget. One 12-year-old client at the Saskatoon laser clinic was only 10 years old when he received a tattoo against his will.
"They want to know this child belongs to somebody and that makes it a lot harder for the child to walk away from that gang or group of people because they are marked," said Yana Poulin, owner at Resolve Laser Clinic.
The clinic is removing tattoos for some people free of charge. Poulin said the offer is open to former gang members, anyone recently released from jail or prison, human trafficking survivors and all children under 16 years of age. Certain tattoos, especially ones on the face or hands, can be a barrier to employment and can simply be hard reminders to the person who wears them, Poulin said.
"They've all done the hard work leaving a gang or walking away from this environment and just having this constant reminder, it's really hard on their self-confidence."
Common tattoos include gang-related symbols or sayings, and inappropriate or vulgar words or images. A session only takes 15 or 30 seconds but you need to come in for three to seven sessions spaced about eight weeks apart to protect the skin, Poulin said. Amateur tattoos, which are common in these circumstances, take fewer sessions.
Since they posted a Facebook post on Sunday announcing the service, they've had nearly 40 applicants.
"The response has been absolutely overwhelming. We guessed there was a need, but definitely did not expect this."
Interested parties can apply for the service. Children will get priority.
Article published: August 23, 2018