A group of Somali-Canadian mothers is calling for a federal judicial task force to deal with the unsolved slaying of some 50 young Somali men over the past decade in Ontario and Alberta.
Grassroots group Positive Change made the plea at a press conference held at Queen’s Park Jan. 22, which was attended by supporter Eglinton-Lawrence MPP Mike Colle, whose riding is home to a large Somali population.
“The press conference was held to seek the help of government and the public at large to solve a host of serious challenges faced by the Somali-Canadian community,” said Positive Change member Habiba Adan, whose 26-year-old son Warsame Ali was gunned down in Etobicoke in September. “Over the last decade, over 50 young Somali-Canadian men and youth have been murdered in Ontario and Alberta. We hosted the conference to not only shed light to this frightening statistic and trend, but to 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.”
The group has released a 5 Point Action Plan for Justice and Hope, which includes:
• 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.
“Members of Positive Change have come together because young Somali-Canadian men are getting killed and we want to stop it,” Adan said. “We work to address issues in education, employment, criminal justice, family counselling, housing and neighbourhood renewal. We’re lobbying all three levels of government, school boards, and their agencies to achieve change. Our goal is to ensure every Somali-Canadian family is successful and safe.”
Lack of arrests means lack of justice for families, Colle said, adding it’s imperative the police and all levels of government become involved.