Earlier today OVO producer Noah “40” Shebib made an Instagram post speaking out on the recent gun violence facing the City of Toronto. In his post he said,
“I’d like to share my thoughts concerning the recent rash in gun violence in the city for a number of reasons. First being that I was born and raised in Toronto, and am still a resident. More importantly my colleagues are being murdered, and I have lost close friends to gun violence. I can’t rest in good conscience knowing I can say, and more importantly do, something. I, like many Torontonians, am not content with intermittent support in moments of tension. Nor can I endorse responses that help further the prison industrial complex. Gun violence has been and continues to be a problem in our city. The longer this lingers without us intervening in meaningful, sustainable, and non-colonial ways, the greater the jeopardy for Toronto’s youth.
I’m not an expert, but I don’t have to be to see that the media coverage of the recent shootings has been reductive and disconcerting. The suggestions that these murders are all gang-related and that increased policing is the most effective remedy are troubling to say the least, especially with little to no mention of increasing community resources and capacity building for youth. As someone who is fortunate to benefit from the resources of our city and the public platform to make a difference, as someone this violence impacts deeply, I have given much thought on how to help.
As a city, we need to value community voice and lived experience when deciding on solutions and financing. We must work to build the capacities of our youth so that they can be resilient enough to navigate is not (sic) inclusive of them. We have to create environments so these communities may flourish within themselves, for themselves.
Over the last two years, I have collaborated with a team of invested and qualified individuals to help develop sustainable solutions to our city’s violence problem. Our project is not a reactionary one. We have been proactively working on a project the entire city and country can be proud of. There are no easy answers and we are asking for patience from the public before we share details, but the last few weeks have been heavy. The pain is palpable. I can see it in people’s eyes; I hear it in their voices; and I can no longer remain silent.
To the city I love, to its beautiful residents, to the mothers, fathers, and family members of the youth we’ve lost to senseless violence, please know that I am with you.
A day earlier Kardinal Offishall, Director X and TAJTHEBLACKLION met with Toronto mayor John Tory to talk about the city’s youth. He also used Instagram to address the recent gun violence.
“Today myself, together with @idirectorx and @tajtheblacklion had a vital meeting with our Mayor @johntory to discuss the state of Toronto, with regards to our youth, our communities and how to lead them. Last Night I made a post and asked all of you to make suggestions and comments as to how we can improve and make our city better. I am very happy to let you know that the mayor read over every last comment and commended everybody who participated. He for real for real saw what the city was saying through my IG and agreed with many of the sentiments. Sometimes we look at our officials and politicians as being out of touch with marginalized communities, but I will say that he is very much aware of the large task that is at hand and was very receptive to a lot of our ideas that were put forth. Big up to everyone who took the time to say what was on their minds and in their hearts, from all walks of life. Having lived in various neighbourhoods across the city, we were able to speak to him from the perspective of being residents but also as people of influence who wish to use our platforms to elevate the city and subsequently the country. There is no one solution that will cure the cancer that is spreading in our communities, but we definitely felt that we have the Mayor’s ear and we took the time to explain the importance of an empathetic outlook and how we’ve got to begin to bring communities together, as opposed to isolating them. It was a first meeting of several (I hope ??), and I like the energy that came from today! We don’t wish to have our youts forgotten about or locked up and/or left to die! Neither does he. Action was the theme of the day and we, together with you guys, will be the conduit to creating the change that we wanna see. I am no social worker, professional educator or any of these amazing people that spend countless hours, days and years elevating our neighbourhoods-but I’m somebody “from the area” who has deep roots in the community and who cares. Continue to comment, make suggestions and share your stories. The stage is yours-let your voice be heard and let’s take this time to come together, contribute and make our neighbourhoods bless ✊”
It’s encouraging that leaders can agree on what’s needed to move forward and that prominent artists are using their platforms to try to resolve this issue.