The events in Ottawa on October 22, 2014 shook me and I will always remember the details of when I heard the news. I was standing outside the preschool waiting for my son's teacher to open the door when another parent said, "Oh, it's going to be a bad day..." My gaze rested on the top of my son's head. And then I turned to his Chinese friend, and then his Indian friend, and over to his Caucasian friend. From child to child, my eyes moved, and filled with tears. Please let them always be like this, oblivious to their "differences." Please let this not get ugly for them.
Confronted with the senselessness of this tragedy, and given how many details have yet to emerge, understanding the implications of this horrific act is difficult. But it seems clear that this is more than merely an issue of national security -- it is an issue of national identity. Rarely have Canadians so acutely felt a sense of collective loss. The easy thing to do is to respond to this tragedy with anger, rashness, and xenophobia. Already, some pundits have found a way to politicize these events -- to call for a barricading of public spaces, a reform of the gun registry, and a military presence on the Hill. All of these things may indeed be sorely needed. But they are beside the point.
A young reserve solider was shot and killed in our capital city of Ottawa by a gunman. Most of us are still reeling from this news and trying to make sense of what has happened today. But we also need to respond to our young people and help them understand what has occurred. There is much we will need to understand and process around this horrific event, but here are some tips to help you talk with your children right here and right now.
They were at a cottage. Just two days ago on a crisp September morning. My friend sat on a raft with her 19-month-old little boy. They were cuddling and soaking up the sunshine when she heard a strange noise; her toddler started to shake and wail uncontrollably. When her husband rushed over to them, another shot hit the boat beside them.
I have two boys. They like to turn their fingers into guns, their toast into bayonets and the household firewood into rifles. For a while I was worried that banning guns in the home made them more desirable, like our North American drinking restrictions. But now I think it's simply part of that Y chromosome. So it's up to me as a parent to teach responsibility and empathy.
The Newtown, Connecticut killer is not a Goth. And so I shouldn't even be writing this. The fact that the most media outlets who have run with this are generally tabloids or right-wing is not a surprise. That's what they do best, inflame and demonize. And so they picked up on one comment from one rather dubious source. I have something to say about what happens when you link a criminal, especially a mass murderer, with an entire subculture of people he or she has absolutely nothing to do with. How it not only doesn't help to answer the question "why?", it actually causes more hurt, more harm.
Shock, disbelief and tears have flooded us, after the Newtown, Connecticut slaying of 20 primary school children aged 5-10 years old. Although it's easy to be blindsided by the heinous crime that took place, let's ask ourselves if the same could happen at our child's school -- and what steps can be taken to prevent a similar tragedy?
What exactly is so "unthinkable" about Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, when it almost seems to happen on a regular basis? There is public outpouring of "sentiment" across all forms of social media and then...Nothing. It's time for the supposedly sentimental to drop the notion that this is not the moment for discussion, but rather the time for emotion and prayer. President Obama should not be crying, the flag should not be lowered; they ought to do away with temporary sentimentality, and finally take action regarding gun control. After all, with so many of these types of tragedies under their belt, shouldn't the Americans be rather immune to this sort of thing?
Yesterday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, seven people were killed and a number injured, including a police officer, when a gunman, named Wade Michael Page stormed a congregation of five hundred people at an American Sikh gudwara. While we and other faith groups dug into our hearts in this manner, the Westboro Baptist Church representative Fred Phelps tweeted: "Beautiful work of an angry God who told Wisconsin to keep their filthy hands off his people." No. Before we are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, B'hai, Jain, Zoroastrian, Aboriginal, Wiccan, Humanist and Sikh -- we are human. God only cares about the way in which we treat one another.
The gas-masked gunman who opened fire at a theatre full of people, killing twelve and injuring dozens more, reportedly had a shotgun, two pistols, an assault rifle, gas canisters, and potentially explosives in his home. What I don't understand is how it can possibly be alright for a civilian to have access to these kinds of weapons.
What sort of a world do the people who run our courts live in? For defending and recovering his property, Brian Knight was convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and sentenced to 90 days -- three times the sentence that the thief got. How dare this guy be saddled with a criminal record for doing what most of us hope we'd do if we were confronted with the same circumstances that faced Brian Knight.
In 2007, Kofi Hope was made a Rhodes Scholar. This year, he returned to Toronto with a newly minted PhD from Oxford. He reflects on the latest tragedy at the Eaton Centre as well as looks at potential solutions to help curb what is becoming an often occurrence in the GTA.
The Eaton Centre shooting this past weekend is not the first time Toronto has been faced with such angst. Yet despite the latest violent outburst, our city remains a safe place. We're very lucky to live in Toronto; in comparison to many other urban centres in North America, crime and violence rarely touch us.
Depending on who you listen to, last weekend's shooting spree at Toronto's Eaton Centre was a sign of gun violence getting out of control, or an isolated "incident" in North America's safest large city. But the fact of the matter is there have been 134 shootings this year, and Toronto police still refuse to help the public by profiling the criminals.