For Abdulkadir Nur, the issue of violence in the community matters.
“It always seems to overshadow all the good that happens in communities,” says the Jane-Finch native who added that all residents of a neighbourhood are affected by the stigma of crime.
“The idea of community violence puts a target on the whole community whereas in reality, it may just be a concentrated set of individuals contributing to all the crime and violence.”
Abdulkadir is one of four ‘mentors’ that will lead the Community Healing Project; it is a five-year federally funded project that will seek to make interventions in the lives of youth living in neighbourhoods that have witnessed violence.
In addition to the ‘mentors’, some 250 ‘healers’ will be trained over the life of the project to do outreach in the same neighbourhoods in order to provide a space to discuss issues such as mental health, provide supports for services and employment as well as building trust and relationships.
According to the City of Toronto, more than a 1,000 youth stand to benefit from the project and the projectr is in partnership with Stella’s Place, a non-profit youth mental health organization, and local organizations.
At a December press conference to announce the program’s launch, Canada’s Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair defended the program and the federal funds being put towards it.
“The program that we are funding today will make a real and lasting and positive difference in these kids’ lives,” Blair said.
As a graduate of the program’s pilot himself, Abdulkadir says the program also provides space for youth to look at how they can contribute to making their neighbourhoods safe.
“This program will help youth affected by violence by giving them an opportunity to be heard and voice their opinions on what is going on in their given communities and what they believe to be the reason for the violence.”
The issue of gun violence once again came into spotlight in 2018 after a record 51 gun-related homicides were recorded in the year.
In September however, Police told residents at a community event in Jane and Finch that firearm incidents were down in the area.