The African Canadian Coalition of Community Organizations (ACCCO) sends its condolences to the parents of Kesean Williams and Tyson Bailey, as these families deal with the tragic and senseless loss of another two of our children.
Since January 1, we have already lost three members of our community to violence. It is because of the disproportionate number of deaths in our community that we make this public statement.
Over the past six months after the tragic events at Danzig, the ACCCO assumed the responsibility of bringing the serious condition of the impact of violence on our community to the attention of the various levels of government. We have been focusing our efforts over the last several months on ensuring that all levels of government work together with the ACCCO to provide culturally competent solutions, and the necessary funding to local initiatives that will enhance the lives of Black youth and youth at risk in the Province of Ontario.
Promises were made by various ministers and officials to take action. Commitments were made to include the ACCCO in implementing sustainable solutions to this endemic crisis. Currently we continue to meet in large government boardrooms with more promises “to take immediate action” even as lives continue to be lost. It is little wonder that trust in our leaders is diminishing.
The ACCCO is disappointed to hear that most of the funds from the Ontario government’s youth strategy to fight violence have already been allocated to groups outside of the African-Canadian community and that we are left alone to address the African-Canadian crisis.
We can only conclude that the African-Canadian community is not seen as a priority by the Government of Ontario. Why else would our community continue to be left out of the critical decision making process on funding for anti-violence programs? There is no amount of meetings and back room discussions that will take the place of grassroots work that must be done in our community. The ACCCO demands sincere and effective action immediately.
We want to bring to the attention of Ontario’s new Premier, Kathleen Wynne, the fact of yet more violent deaths of African-Canadian children. The extremely high proportion of African-Canadian men who are victims of homicide every year in the Greater Toronto Area is detrimental, not only to the future of African-Canadians, but the broader community as well. It must be recognized as a crisis by the broader community, and all levels of government. We are concerned that the various levels of government have not seen fit to express outrage and show concern about the disproportionate violent deaths in the African-Canadian community.
As a new agenda is set by Premier Wynne, we are stepping forward once again to say that the ACCCO is ready to do the work necessary to meet the challenges our community faces. We need a clear and urgent signal from the Premier that this is a priority for her.
The ACCCO urges the public to call the Premier’s office on behalf of all of those who have been murdered, and demand that priority be given to the crisis in our community, and that the new premier take action to address the crisis immediately.
In this time of crisis, it is imperative to heed the words of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa:
“Safety and security doesn’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
The African Canadian Coalition of Community Organizations (ACCCO) is made up of a consortium of organizations that have been focusing their efforts over the last several months on ensuring that all levels of government work together to provide culturally competent solutions, and the necessary funding to local initiatives seeking to enhance the lives of Black youth and youth at risk in the province of Ontario.