More gun violence, more talk

( L to R ) Rod Brereton, Ron Boyce and Farley Flex,
( L to R ) Rod Brereton, Ron Boyce
and Farley Flex,

The  Urban Rez Solutions launched last Thursday  their  ‘Just Think 1st Initiative’ to mitigate incidents of gun violence in Toronto,.

Eyesers  will recall that many moons ago, in this column Eyes called for  the issue of  gun violence to be put  on the front burner, as our community was fixated on racial profiling/carding.

It’s about closing the social gap between policing and the rest of the community, as Black Lives Matter Toronto is carving out another niche.

We were  informed  a series of public service media  announcements  on gun violence and conflict management techniques would be released over a period of several months.

So, as incidents of gun violence continue to traumatize communities and devastate families, Roderick Brereton, founder of  Urban Rez Solutions, an anger/change management consultancy, in collaboration with speaker and social activist Farley Flex, will work with a group of talented artistes to address this important issue from a new perspective to try and  bring tangible solutions to light.

Urban Rez Solutions has worked with youth in communities such as Malvern, Lawrence Heights, Flemingdon Park, Regent Park and Rexdale.

You see, Eyesers, both Brereton and Flex believe that through proper  education, well allocated resources and insightful awareness, we can curb the gun violence problem and make our communities both stronger and safer.

“It seems that all we see in the media of late are shootings and other forms of anger related violence.,” said a concerned Flex .

He stressed that it does not have to be this way. “By working together to find resolve and equip young people  and the communities they live in with the life skills and tools they need, knowledge and opportunities to thrive and grow safely, we can give the media something positive to talk about,” he noted.

The Just think 1st Initiative  campaign will work with young people between the ages of 12 and 29 and others who by virtue of lifestyle, lack conflict resolution skills and impulse control. The campaign will be circulated through a variety of multi-media outlets, as well as community centres and youth organizations throughout Toronto. It will include a series of videos produced by cutting edge artistes including Chris Strikes, POV 3rd  St, Gdot, Cazhhmere and Rose Ann Bailey. Internationally renowned media company S8 will spearhead on-screen graphics and post production services.

Both Flex and Brereton are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before with such studies as  “Root Causes and Solutions to Youth Violence in Toronto and “The Review of the Roots of Youth  Violence.”

Commenting back in March 2006  on the report  on the ” Root Causes and Solutions to Youth Violence  in Toronto,” Project Leader/Dialogue Convener, Verlyn Francis  told Eyes that ” the entire community was shaken by the wave of gun-related violence, predominantly affecting young Black men, which swept through our City…”

Francis, a Bay Street lawyer of Jamaican roots, in the summing up of her team’s report, noted  the violence among Black youth that our community  is facing is not a just a Black problem.

The report revealed this is what might be expected to happen to any marginalized young people who lack the sure footing and societal ties that can keep them steady as they grow and develop towards independence. A significant number of Black youths feel they have been pushed out of Toronto’s society. Some have opted instead to form a parallel society which  has its own rules, code of conduct, and sense of camaraderie.

And sad but true, it is a place where, in the Black youths’ view, it is easier to live knowing that you could be gunned  down at any time than to deal with the anger and despair that comes from feeling unaccepted, not encouraged and not knowing why.

Oh, well, let’s be hopeful, given the numerous reports gathering dust on youth/gun violence in our community  that this Urban Rez Solutions initiative d is not just a mere public relations exercise.

One Love… we continue to build bridges.