New database offers alternate resources to call when police intervention isn't possible
'The police do not inherently make everyone feel safe'
Black Lives Matter Sudbury has released a directory of resources for people to call during an emergency when they feel police intervention might not be possible.
This follows recent scrutiny of police brutality and Black Lives Matter demonstrations across Canada and the U.S.
The database includes contact information for more than 60 community organizations and programs in the region and is divided into categories with the aim of helping people identify which service they should contact.
The organizations listed in the directory serve a range of people including Indigenous and Black communities, with some focusing on mental health and sexual violence. The First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Hotline and the Afro-Heritage Association are just a couple of examples.
A call for mental health assistance ended up with her falling 24 floors to her death.— Isak Vaillancourt, organizer with Black Lives Matter Sudbury
Isak Vaillancourt, an organizer with the local chapter of Black Lives Matter says the group wanted to provide an organized, one-stop resource for people in the community who don't necessarily feel safe in police presence.
'A public resource'
Vaillancourt is a member of the local BIPOC community and identifies as mixed race.
"Involving police and law enforcement when harm occurs often escalates the possibility of violence and fails to address the harm in a way that's healing for both the individual and the community," he said.
"This list was created as a public resource for steps to use before calling police to keep our community safe from police violence."
Up until now, Vaillancourt said, the region was lacking a comprehensive resource to help people to find alternative support during an emergency.
While he's not able to share any personal negative experiences with police in the region, he said there are plenty of instances that point to a need for alternative emergency resources.
Vaillancourt said the incident involving Regis Korchinski-Paquet who died after falling from a high-rise balcony during a wellness check in Toronto is just one example in recent months.
It's time for our marginalized communities to have someone to call who does.— Isak Vaillancourt, organizer with Black Lives Matter Sudbury
"A call for mental health assistance ended up with her falling 24 floors to her death," he said.
"The police do not inherently make everyone feel safe and it's time for our marginalized communities to have someone to call who does."
In response to the directory released on Thursday, a spokesperson with the Greater Sudbury Police Service said the service is "committed to working with community partners."
'A shared commitment'
"Community safety and well-being is a shared commitment and they encourage community members to access support resources as required," police said.
Vaillancourt said the database could be especially useful in situations where mental health and domestic violence are a concern.
"Often times police aren't equipped to deal with these situations," he said.
He said when creating the list, organizers wanted to included groups and programs who were trained to deal with "delicate" circumstances.
The Black Lives Matter Sudbury database is available on the group's Facebook page.