Nearly 320 citizens joined law enforcement at a community forum on November 1 to raise awareness about gun violence and look at the social issues that lead young people down a criminal path.
The event took place at Daniel’s Spectrum.
The iImpact wrAPParound is a collaboration of Toronto Police Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit, the Black Community Consultative Committee (BCCC), the Ministry of Children & Social Services, UrbanRez Solutions, youth and community organizations.
Const. Isabelle Cotton and Sarah Ali of the BCCC started the movement just over a year ago.
“iImpact is an ongoing and ever-growing collaboration of individuals and organizations that recognize the importance of equality in all things,” said Cotton, who has been with the Service for 18 years. “In short, we come together, think together, execute together and strive to solve social issues together.”
Community organizer Farley Flexx, whose organization Urban Rez is a partner, said youths that have access to social services at an early age are less likely to interact with the criminal justice system.
“We have to ensure that there are not only supports, but that they are working together and treating the young people who need with respect,” he said.
Flexx announced that a mobile app is being developed for residents of the city to rate their community services.
“If I go to a health clinic or recreational centre, when I leave, I will be able to rate how I was treated,” he added. “We are going to hold each other accountable. From the prevention standpoint, if someone is born into a circumstance that presents barriers, we are writing a ticket that leads to things like gun violence, incarceration and a perpetual dependency on the system. We need to break that and the only way we can do that is by having everyone at the table. If you are not on the table, you will remain on the menu.”
Chief Mark Saunders assured community members that they are at the centre of everything that Toronto Police Service is doing to ensure that all residents are safe.
“We belong to you, but in order to get it right, you have to trust us,” said Saunders. “That trust is not by words. It is by doing activities like we are doing here today and ensuring that our actions are reflective of the things we say. How we define success has changed tremendously which is why we have this program. When I was at Homicide for almost eight-and-a-half years, success was defined as making the apprehension of somebody who killed someone else. But when you strip it down, that’s a failure from all aspects because success would be if someone got in front of that young man before he picks up that gun to even think about shooting someone else.”
Todd Smith, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, presented awards to the ‘Invisible Heroes’ making an impact in the community.
The recipients were Khalil Dorival, Erin Leigh, Francis Atta, Rahima Hassan, Margaret Kelly, Kofi Sankofa, Natalie Chattargoon, Zya Brown, Olidupe Temitope Gabriel, Marlon Roper, Phillip, “Chucky” Chuck, Jacqueline Dwyer and Noel Livingstone.
The event featured entertainment by spoken word artist King the Rapper, Jade’s Hip Hop Academy and DJs Love Jones, Kristian and The Vybz Master.