Organizers of a campaign to end gun violence in Toronto say a rash of shootings that claimed the lives of several young people in recent weeks has only strengthened their resolve.
The Zero Gun Violence Movement, launched at the start of the summer, is supported by local community groups and businesses in a bid to curb youth crime. But a spate of recent gunfire that included about 30 shooting in 30 days has taken the lives of four teenagers and sent several others to hospital.
Rather than be dissuaded, the campaign's founder, Louis March, said he is even more determined to get corportate Toronto to reach out to young people and re-engage them in positive programs. Supporters of the campaign are urged to get involved in offering job placements, scholarships and mentoring.
"We are angered whenever a life is taken, especially 14, 15, 16 [years old]. No, this is not right," March said. "The fact that the violence still exists mean we have more work to do."
Last week, a 14-year-old boy was charged with manslaughter in the shooting of a 16-year-old at an apartment building at 2240 Weston Rd.
'Desensitized to young people dying'
And in late August, 16-year-old O'She Doyles Whyte was shot dead, along with a friend, in broad daylight at a housing complex in northwest Toronto. Friends and family comforted each other outside a funeral home holding Whyte's visitation on Friday.
"These are Torontonians that are coming from very vulnerable communities and believe that we owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves that no one is left behind in our city," said Victor Beausoleil, who is part of the Zero Gun Violence Movement.
"Many community groups are completely desensitized to young people dying, and that is a problem."
Beausoleil runs an organization that helps young people get back on track after they have been in trouble with the law.
"Every bullet that is fired in Toronto has a story behind it," he said, adding that everyone in the city has a stake in the problem of youth gun violence.
Community groups say they will continue to focus on gun violence prevention and education.