THE BLOG

Confronting Violence in Somali-Canadian Youth

02/18/2013 12:55 EST | Updated 04/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Between Ontario and Alberta there are now more than 50 unresolved slaying of Canada's Somali Canadian youth. What is more tragic is that out of these many murders, none have yet to be resolved.

The parents of mostly young victims are calling on the federal government to create a judicial task force to address this made-in-Canada tragedy. We hope the government will listen to their plea.

The fact is that as Toronto's City Councillor Josh Matlow recently addressed in his motion calling for the City to act on the violence that is gripping his city: "youth violence is not isolated to any one neighborhood or any one community in our city. We need to treat this issue like it's happening on the street that we live on because it will affect us eventually in some way in some form. These are our kids and we've got to address it."

In a press conference held in the riding of Egliniton-Lawrence the parents of most of the victims addressed how "over the last decade, over 50 young Somali-Canadian men and youth have been murdered in Ontario and Alberta and we want to shed light on this frightening statistic and trend, and also challenge the government and the public to help us turn the ship around. We feel that when we work together, we can stop these senseless killings."

We believe government and the public should join the movement. No child should die in vain and the killing is forever destroying many Canadian lives. In the press conference attended by local MPP Mike Colle and many activists, the parents via a new group released five pointers how their issue can best be addressed.

• The federal government establish a judicial task force to investigate the dozens of unsolved murders of Somali-Canadian youth in Alberta and Ontario.

• Provincial and federal governments co-operate in creating targeted employment and training opportunities for Somali-Canadian youth.

• The RCMP, OPP, and Toronto Police Service make an all-out effort to recruit and employ Somali-Canadian officers, both male and female.

• School boards partner with the ministry of education and Somali-Canadian leaders to create a task force to address the Somali-Canadian Community's concerns, such as high drop-out rates and the high number of children in special needs programs.

• Provincial and federal governments review and strengthen the witness protection programs and explore what can be done to better protect witnesses and encourage them to come forward and give evidence when a violent crime is committed, free from intimidation and reprisal.

In Ontario -- the comprehensive report that was done by the Honorable Roy McMurtry and Dr. Alvin Curling gave us a benchmark on how to best address youth violence. It identified poverty, racism and lack of youth engagement among the many issues it addressed.

For the Somali Canadian parents, it's important to look ahead as much as look forward in addressing what has almost been a regular occurrence in Ontario and Alberta. We can begin by endorsing their call for judicial task force in addressing the loss of their Canadian children.

In Canada, the role of governments in accommodating our newest Canadians has always been paramount to their integration. The Somali-Canadian population is no exception. The violence that is destroying Somali-Canadians should be addressed now before it becomes an overwhelming epidemic like most North American cities such as Detroit and Chicago.

The mothers are crying out in desperation for help as they can't stop the killings by themselves. Fifty murderers are free and they are prisoners of this brutal violence that destroyed their lives.

The federal government should consider their request. They might not have the vote to sway a government policy however these are Canada's newest citizens.

They should be treated as such!

*This blog post was co-written by MPP Mike Colle