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Statement from Danforth Families for Safe Communities National Day Against Gun Violence, Canada, 2024

Toronto, ON – June 7, 2024


The Danforth Families for Safe Communities (DFSC) stands with all community groups and advocates on this National Day Against Gun Violence. We thank the Federal Government and the Toronto Raptors for urging to get this day recognized, annually, on the first Friday of June.  


It is modelled after the National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the US, which was created due to the 2013 murder of Haditha Pendleton in Chicago.  Haditha spoke at the inauguration of Barack Obama and a week after her speech, she was gunned down. Friends of hers started this day as a day to pause and remember those affected most deeply by gun violence. Sadly, in Canada and in the GTA especially, we have been reminded by recent events that we still need to acknowledge our own challenges with gun violence.  We still need a moment to reflect and to grieve, and also to honor through our actions, those that were lost.   


Speaking as Danforth Families for Safe Communities, on July 22, 2018, two beautiful girls were killed, thirteen others were injured, and many more were traumatized by a gunman with a stolen weapon.   


DFSC spokesperson Ali Demircan, who was shot and survived his injuries, will join other community groups, today, who will speak out about their experience at an event in Toronto, at Oasis Alternative Secondary School, organized by MPP Chris Glover.  Our story is different than the ones others will tell you, but it ends in the same sad way. Sudden loss. Unspeakable grief. And the challenge of coping with the aftermath.  


Ali speaks for DFSC in calling for a greater focus on the counselling needed by victims of gun violence.  We see this as a matter of public health, and therefore as a provincial matter.  Accordingly, we direct this call to Premier Ford, to offer more on this issue than just a law-and-order response. As much as first responders are important, they get involved after the fact and only deal with justice; vital, but not the whole story when it comes to recovery.

From Ali, here are some of his words, from his experience:

“I survived the shooting on the Danforth but every day since, my life has not been the same. My family’s life has not been the same.  I have now lived with a terrible experience that has taught me just how much wounds stretch far deeper than the physical impact on the body.  The recovery from the sudden loss and trauma is extremely challenging. 

Sadly, the support systems to help us deal with the aftermath, and for our loved ones to deal with the aftermath, do not seem to exist. We desperately need the Provincial Government, in particular, to take a comprehensive public health approach to gun violence in Ontario, one that invests far more in counselling and programs that helps victims and their families to recover.”


How ever you choose to mark this day, DFSC offers you our thanks, as we all wear white as an acknowledgement that more needs to be done on this issue.


As mentioned above, many community groups in the Greater Toronto Area will be holding their owns events to raise awareness,, to reflect, and to call for action in ways that are meaningful to their communities.  Here is a partial list of these events, all happening on June 7:

Etobicoke (Centennial Park) :

Smile for Sache – Community BBQ event with community partners, youth, afterschool programs and trauma informed stations


Mississauga  (Celebration Square):

Keep6ix: Harmony Over Violence: A Concert for Change – This event will include musical performances, featuring talented local artists to entertain and engage the audience while spreading the message of peace and unity – Guest speakers and local police representatives following.

 

Rexdale (Humber College – North Campus):

Think 2Wice:  A red-carpet affair for the pre-screening of the documentary “Trapped”. Youth, community members and college students are invited to watch the first episode of the “Trapped” docu-series, followed by panel discussion focusing on the messages in the film. Conversations will revolve around grief, loss and healing.

 

North York (York University):

YAAACE - Basketball & Community Safety Awareness Event. An all-day Basketball clinic for youth from 8-10 schools in the region, all participating together as one community, followed by keynote speakers. Panel that includes guest speakers with lived experiences who will speak on the importance of access to mental health services

 

Downtown Toronto (Daniel’s Spectrum / Regent Park :

Mothers of Peace - Mothers of Peace has organized a rally with youth, community members and elected representatives, followed by the screening of a documentary, highlighting stories of mothers whose families have been affected by gun violence. It will include panels, workshops and healing stations with registered therapists. 

 

East York (3 locations)

Marc Garneau Collegiate  - In collaboration with Flemingdon Health and Wellness, this event will include conversations on gun violence awareness, student presentations on how to address issues of violence, spoken word and other live entertainment.

Iron Sharpens Iron (1324 Danforth Avenue) – This event is centered around black men and their experiences. It will include spoken word and monologue on gun violence, and music and dance performances

Footprints & Mic Check Youth( 596 Danforth Road) -  Panel discussion with youth on multi-faceted aspects of gun violence and finding ways to address community challenges

 

Scarborough (Rally walkathon):

JAMAAL MAGLOIRE FOUNDATION -  A community organized walk with youth from Engage416 (Gang Violence Task Force), community members, sponsors and well wishers. Including guest speakers, music truck, food/drinks and other activities and entertainment.





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