Somali-Canadian community fears further loss of life

Toronto's Somali-Canadian community is fearful that they could lose more of their young to violence, after a spate of shootings has left three men dead since the start of June.
Faduma Mohamed told CBC News she has sent some of her children back to Somalia because she thinks it is safer for them there than on the streets of Toronto. (CBC)

Toronto’s Somali-Canadian community is fearful that they could lose more of their young to violence, after a spate of shootings has left three men dead since the start of June.

The community has mourned the loss of Abdulle Elmi, Hussein Hussein and Ahmed Hassan, all of whom were shot dead before their 30th birthday over the past six weeks.

Elmi, 25, was shot dead and his body was left on a Etobicoke street on July 5.

His body has been laid to rest in the same North Toronto cemetery as Hassan, his 24-year-old cousin who was killed in the June 2 shooting at the Eaton Centre that left another man fatally wounded as well.

Hussein is also buried there. The 28-year-old was shot in an apartment near Yonge Street and Highway 401 on June 23.

Their deaths follow the slayings of more than two dozen young men from the Somali-Canadian community who have died in Alberta in recent years. Most of those victims had ties to Toronto.

With the loss of so much life, community members in Toronto are looking for answers.

Focus on mothers

Ali Abdullahi of the Somali Youth Association of Toronto said that an effort has been made to reach out to women in the community, to ensure that they are aware of the dangers and temptations their children may be facing.

"What we’ve been doing lately is been working with a lot of the mothers who have a lot of say in the community," said Abdullahi.

"So, working with those mothers, engaging them, empowering them, letting them know what they’re kids are into, so therefore they are better informed about what’s going on within their own household and within the community."

But some people say that young members of the community face dangers on many fronts on Toronto streets.

Faduma Mohamed said that in a part of Dixon Road that is home to many Somali-Canadians, there are gang members lurking and even people who act as recruiters for extremists. And they have access to unemployed and bored youth.

Mohamed told CBC News that she sent some of her kids back to Somalia where she believes they are safer.

She’s not the only one who is concerned about what is happening in Toronto.

Amran Osman, a community activist, said the people who left Somalia came to Canada with hopes of a more promising life, not to become a statistic.

"We came here for a better future," Osman said. "We left a country where people were being killed."