Young Torontonians push for solutions to city’s gun violence problem

 Friday was National Day Against Gun Violence and it comes on the heels of a weekend shooting that killed two people and injured three others in North Etobicoke. Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who took part in a ceremony in the Peace Garden at Nathan Phillips Square, taking a moment to try and comfort [[{“value”:”

Friday was National Day Against Gun Violence and it comes on the heels of a weekend shooting that killed two people and injured three others in North Etobicoke.

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who took part in a ceremony in the Peace Garden at Nathan Phillips Square, taking a moment to try and comfort those who were still on edge after the shooting in their neighbourhood.

“For the residents that are feeling scared, for the families that don’t want to go out and play with their kids I say to them the police are out in these communities, do not let fear dominate, please do claim your public space and together we will keep each other safe,” said Chow.

The Toronto Youth Cabinet, along with advocates and students from North Albion Collegiate Institute, appealed to Chow and the rest of city council for more funding aimed at community building in the Rexdale area while urging the city to focus on crime prevention and connecting young people with work.

“First increase funding to violence prevention grants such as The Identified Impact Program which has been successful in enhancing opportunities for young people, we’re calling for an immediate $300,000 investment to this program,” said Stephen Mensash, the executive director of the Toronto Youth Cabinet.

“We are also calling for the creation of a summer youth employment program to ensure young people have access to meaningful and gainful employment opportunities. A job will provide our young people with meaning and purpose which thereby enables them to live a more productive life.”

Students at North Albion Collegiate Institute say they are taken aback and deeply disappointed by the continuing streak of violence.

“Create more accessible youth spaces and support violence prevention initiatives that provide mentorship, conflict resolution, training, and life skill development,” said student Jessica Owusu.

Fellow student Prabhdeep Mann pointed out students were not permitted to come to school on Monday as police continued to investigate the deadly shooting. She said when they returned Tuesday they found out there were resources available, including guidance counsellors and social support workers, however, they were not available on Wednesday.

“It’s not that there’s an absence of resources in Rexdale to help you, but rather a lack of accessibility and awareness about their existence. What’s the point of having resources if no one knows that they’re available,” said Mann.

A joint statement by the Toronto Youth Council and Toronto District School board reads in part, “Our city’s young people deserve to thrive in environments rich with opportunities, not beset by poverty and violence.”

Police continue to investigate the June 2 shooting that has claimed the lives of 46-year-old Seymour Gibbs and 61-year-old Delroy “George” Parkes. Three other victims sustained injuries ranging from life-altering to non-life-threatening. Investigators have not said what the motive might have been for the shooting and could not confirm if any of the men injured were specifically targeted.

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