President Nigel Barriffe acknowledges the 360 project's unified effort in addressing systemic issues
“Addressing the Discrimination Experienced by Somali Canadians and Racialized LGBTQ Homeless Youth in Toronto” was a one-year study conducted from July, 2013 to July, 2014 by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR) in collaboration with the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University. The study was generously supported with funding from Mitacs Accelerate. The study focused on two highly vulnerable and marginalized groups in Toronto: the Somali Canadian community and racialized LGBTQ persons who are homeless.
The 360 project was guided by these four research questions:
1) What are the unique experiences of Somali Canadians and Racialized Homeless LGBTQ Youth in the GTA with respect to: racial and/or gender identity formation, education and links to success, employment and employability, physical and mental health, housing, media representations, and the criminal justice system?
2) What experiences shape and influence common perceptions of the Somali Canadian and Homeless LGBTQ Youth communities?
3) What are the underlying factors that account for socio-economic challenges and successes of members of these communities living in the GTA?
4) What strategies, policies, and initiatives do members of these communities believe should be prioritized in order to address these challenges?
The research team recruited 10-15 members from each community to participate in two focus groups, one focused on Somali Canadians and the other on Racialized LGBTQ Homeless Youth, for a pair of enlightening two-hour long meetings. The researchers encouraged each participant to share their personal struggles and discuss issues related to the barriers and challenges that they face in relation to employment, health, justice, education, and housing.
This report provides UARR with vital information about what is currently required to fulfill its mission of working to maintain stable, peaceful, and harmonious relations among the various groups that call Toronto home. This project is also aligned with the Diversity Institute’s objective to develop customized strategies, programming, and resources to promote new, interdisciplinary knowledge and practice supporting diversity with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, Aboriginal peoples, abilities, and sexual orientation.
To view results of the 360 project please click here: 360 project results
(Photo: President of UARR, Nigel Barriffe, declaring enough is enough.)
On Sunday, July 5th, Andrew Loku was killed at the hands of the police within two minutes of their arrival to a social community housing unit subsidized by the Canadian Mental Health Association. Mr. Loku had been carrying a hammer and was distressed. He was not a threat, as a helpful neighbour was present helping him calm down. Mr. Loku had been complaining about constant noise from a resident who lived above him. All he wanted was to sleep.
Mr. Loku was suffering from mental health issues. He was a child soldier survivour from South Sudan. His country has been involved in Civil War since 1983. Mr. Loku has a wife and 5 kids who live in South Sudan. He came to Canada as a refugee, with a plan to bring his family to Canada. He graduated from George Brown College in the Construction program.
Mr. Loku is not the first case of an innocent life taken at the hands of the police. Nor he is the first Black man to be killed at the hands of the police.
This morning the Urban Alliance on Race Relations joined Across Boundaries, the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Canadian Mental Health Association, Black Lives Matter-Toronto and the Anti-Black Racism network to speak once again about the over-representation of African Canadians with mental health issues killed by the police.
This conversation is not new. In 2013, in response to the death of Sammy Yatim, then Chief of Toronto Police, Bill Blair, issued an Independent Review of the Use of Lethal Force by the Toronto Police Services (better known as the Iaccobucci Report). In this report was a call for better police training, oversight and a mobile crisis team to support the police when responding to people in crisis.
Yet, two years later another life is taken. Enough is Enough.
Our sincerest condolences to Mr. Andrew Loku, his family and his friends. We all should live in a society where we should not be afraid to exist because of the colour of our skin and the state of our mental health. Black Lives and All Lives Matter.
Executive Director, Jason Merai
To contribute to a crowd source fund for Mr. Andrew Loku, please follow this link: http://toronto.cmha.ca/news/andrew-loku/#.VaA30cZViko