Somali community holds Etobicoke forum to talk about gun violence

Hundreds gathered Saturday at an Etobicoke high school to discuss how to address gun violence in Toronto’s Somali community.

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford voiced support for a controversial Toronto police initiative

More than 200 people in Toronto's Somali community gathered in Etobicoke Saturday hoping to enact change to combat gun violence (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Hundreds gathered Saturday at an Etobicoke high school to discuss how to address gun violence in Toronto's Somali community.

The Somali Canadian Forum is calling on provincial and municipal governments, police and the community to help find a solution.

Mohamed Kassim of the Canadian Somali Forum helped organize the event and is hoping for change.

"For so many years we've had young people dying, being killed by gun violence, and this is a time that the community is saying, 'Enough is enough. We can't live like this anymore,'" he told CBC Toronto. 

Mohamed Kassim of the Canadian Somali Forum helped organize Saturday's event. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Saturday's meeting comes after a six-month study following the two separate fatal shootings in the Dixon and Islington area in October.

Kassim adds families are fearful but also believe they have a responsibility to enact change.  

"Young mothers today are very worried whenever their young boys leave the house and they are saying we cannot live in fear anymore," he said.

Ford, Tory talk solutions

Mayor John Tory was at Saturday's meeting and says the city has already started taking action to help Toronto's Somali community, including re-establishing a body to have the police liaison better with the community and hosting a job fair.

"It's so important for us to be here as leaders of the city from all levels of government to say to them, 'we're in your corner. We're going to take measures that are necessary to help you make sure these kids have every chance to be everything they want to be,'" Tory said. 
Mayor John Tory says the city has already started taking action to help Toronto's Somali community. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

The findings of the six-month study led by the community resulted in four recommendations, including forming a task-force focused on youth violence in the city and the province.

PC Leader Doug Ford was the only major provincial party leader at Saturday's meeting and said as premier he would ensure that there would be a police task force and TAVIS, the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, would be involved after being cut by the Liberal government.

He also threw his support behind after-school programs, focusing on youth employment and hearing from parents.  

"We have to make sure that we sit down with the community, the mothers, the fathers and get their opinion, because nothing breaks my heart more than when young people get shot," Ford said. "As premier, my door is always going to be open."

With files from Talia Ricci