Six candidates write about inequality, investing in youth, and honouring the memories of those killed in Etobicoke and Regent Park on Monday.
On Monday afternoon, two young men—including a 15-year-old high-school student—were shot dead in the Dixon Road and Islington Avenue area of Etobicoke. Shortly thereafter, in Regent Park, another young man was killed, gunned down in an alleyway in broad daylight. On Tuesday morning six city council candidates, three of whom are running in Ward 2 where the first shooting took place, released a statement about the recent violence…
It is with shock and sadness that we write regarding yesterday’s shootings in the Dixon and Islington neighbourhood, as well as Regent Park. In the span of a couple hours, our city lost three young men to gun violence. The cause is immaterial. What matters is that these were shootings, and that they happened in neighbourhoods that are far from strangers to violence. Neighbourhoods where income inequality and lack of opportunities have barricaded many inside the walls of poverty.
The most difficult adjustment that comes from running for public office is the sense of responsibility that comes when tragedy strikes our community. Given that we’re all first time candidates, we thought we would share some thoughts on the transition from grieving community members to grieving politicians.
All of us have watched our neighbourhoods steadily improving themselves by pulling together in support through difficult times. The young people in our communities are harder working and better educated than they have ever been. Our communities are doing the hard work and heavy lifting required by the Canadian promise to be part of the Toronto family.
Behind yesterday’s headlines are families torn apart by grief and loss, and the rising sentiment that the situation will never improve. Whenever these types of tragedies happen, it’s easy to call for more policing or more effort from our communities, but the fact of the matter is, there is no credible study to show that increased policing causes a drop in violence among youth. We are quick to use carceral solutions as the first option, and yet, the only thing we haven’t tried is actually investing in our youth. We may all have different visions of how best to support and build up our neighbourhoods, and on those visions, we will disagree and debate. What is not up for debate is that we owe our young people better.
As a city, either we’re going to address the systemic inequalities that lead to poverty and violence, or we’re going to accept the status quo. In many neighbourhoods across Toronto, that status quo is causing lost lives. When the news cycle has moved on from today’s tragic events, our youth will still carry both the responsibilities and the stigmas thrust on them – often by circumstances outside of their control. The lack of jobs, lack of access to mentorship and education, lack of physical and economic mobility are problems our city has had the opportunity to change, and has consistently declined to do so.
Yesterday’s tragedy does not represent those young people. It does not represent their passion, their intelligence, or their drive. We ask that as the city moves forward from yesterday’s shocking and saddening events, that our fellow Torontonians spare a moment to think of the families of these young men, as well as their friends and neighbours. We also ask that, as a city, we honour their memory by ending the cycle of violence in these communities through emphasizing solidarity and opportunity, rather than punishment.
Andray Domise (Ward 2, Etobicoke North)
Idil Burale (Ward 1, Etobicoke North)
Munira Abukar (Ward 2, Etobicoke North)
Benn Adeoba (Ward 2, Etobicoke North)
Keegan Henry-Mathieu (Ward 7, York West)
Lekan Olawoye (Ward 12, York South-Weston)