A toddler’s birthday party came to a tragic end on Saturday night as gunshots rang out in the Etobicoke neighborhood, sending three children and a young man to hospital.
The incident, which left a five-year-old in life-threatening condition, is the latest in a series of shootings in years in which children have been the victims of gun violence.
After a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed in an apparently gang-related shootout in North York late last year, the community vowed “he must be the last child to die without reason “.
However, shootings in the city continue, with 154 recorded as of mid-June, according to Toronto police, and each year leaving behind a growing trail of young victims and their families.
In June 2018, a Scarborough neighborhood was traumatized after two sisters, aged five and nine, were gunned down in a playground.
The younger was shot in the abdomen and the older girl was shot in the ankle. Both underwent surgery and survived the ordeal, but trauma follows them to this day.
The mother of two daughters, Stacey King, wants a better response from the government to these shootings.
“It just gets out of hand, like the kids are in the crossfire, and it just doesn’t stop and the government doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do to stop it,” King told The Star in a report. interview Sunday.
“They are branded for life. I am marked for life. It’s been almost three years now and the trauma is still there, ”she added. “The government is talking only talk and the justice system is in turmoil. ”
“I don’t feel like anything has changed since what happened with my daughters. Can’t I even send them to the playground, to our own community? I mean, come on.
Wendy Cukier is Vice President of Research and Innovation at Ryerson University School of Management. She is also the chair of the country’s gun control lobby. She launched the Coalition for Gun Control in the weeks following the Montreal massacre in 1989.
“There are no simple solutions to a complex problem. For 30 years we have been working on this problem, and… reducing the availability of firearms has been shown to have an impact, ”Cukier said.
“The shooting problem is not improving and I think that indicates that we need an integrated strategy and that one of them is gun control, but it is also about s ‘tackle the root causes and make sure the justice system will work. “
One of those causes is the systemic inequality between neighborhoods that unevenly affects people who often also belong to racial and ethnic minorities, said Louise March, founder of the Zero Gun Violence Movement, an advocacy collective. working to end gun violence in the GTA.
March founded the movement in 2013, just after the Danzig Avenue shooting in Scarborough left 23 people injured and two dead, including 14-year-old Shyanne Charles.
“In terms of inequity, Toronto has become a city of cities; there is a difference between living in Rosedale and living in Rexdale, ”March told The Star.
“Shootings cause trauma and grief. If we don’t deal with this trauma, it manifests itself in violence within the same community, ”he added.
March’s movement advocates for resources and support to be parachuted into these communities so that children, youth and families can feel safe.
“When there is a shooting in a school, public health sends a team to make sure that those affected by the violence do not internalize it, but when there is a shooting in a neighborhood, a similar trauma team is sent for young residents? ” he said.
“That’s why it has to be seen as a public health issue, to break the cycle of violence. “