Local organization is changing the conversation about gun violence in Toronto: Upcoming Crime Week events for victims and survivors — Downsview Advocate

BY: AYESHA KHAN

Reverend Sky Starr is no stranger to the realities of gun violence. As a grief counselor and CEO of Out Of Bounds, she has been calming and caring for grieving families of victims of gun violence and other traumatic incidents for decades.

Based in the Jane and Finch neighborhood of Downsview, Reverend Sky has helped families throughout the GTA and even across the border. As a well-known, established and published voice on the subject, he has been outspoken about the traumatic effects of gun violence and the drastic measures needed to end it.

“The trauma of gun violence is not only crippling, it is lifelong. Children, youth, mothers, families and communities are continuously affected. I am honored to provide competent care to victims and survivors for the past 17 years, while raising awareness of the need for tangible and permanent solutions to help survivors.”

Reverend Sky argues that what is missing from the conversation is a public health approach. For this reason, Out Of Bounds has organized multiple conversations about the many facets of this crisis. This month for Crime Victims and Survivors Week May 15-21, 2022, Out Of Bounds is hosting its fifth annual VSCW event, a panel called “Is Gun Violence a Public Health Issue?”

Join the Zoom meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84636177535?pwd=OFVwMnhTN0E1VzZ3UVVlYVZwRmtuUT09

Esteemed guests include Toronto Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Tazio Clarke of the Ontario Victim/Witness Assistance Program, Patricia Wilson, Manager of the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, and SJ Reid, a survivor. Former Police Board Boss President Alok Mukherjee will provide opening remarks on this timely and much-needed conversation.

The diverse and experienced panel of experts will address the issue of gun violence from the perspective of public health and community safety, to focus on the hidden dimensions of the problem and propose some key solutions that can be implemented.

Also taking place during the week is a survivor social event on May 16, where victims, grieving families and allies alike can come together for community support and empowerment; Especially important as this year’s theme for Crime Victims and Survivors Week is the Power of Collaboration.

Join the Zoom meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89915089210?pwd=RkZlWjZQckVqOS9ya0krNmV0RWloZz09

Reverend Sky’s many community events have been vital soul food for families in need, especially Black mothers who have lost their children to gun violence.

“I started attending these groups five years ago and I really want to attend. I was a basket case when I started, because I lost my son. but I get a new message every time and it helps me cope. This is a very important job that Rev is doing and I try to bring someone new every time.” He shared a mother who wanted to be known as P.

“[I] He received [a] clear message: “You are not alone” since you are among friends. They’ve been there and they know what it feels like. You are never judged as you learn to cope with your pain.” Collette shared.

The experience is also enriching for the many volunteers involved, who continue to give because the work is so meaningful.

“This one-of-a-kind event fills a critical gap by bringing the community – victims, survivors, policymakers and first responders – together to destigmatize the impact of gun violence, the first step to achieving lasting results. healing,” opined Melinda, a long-time volunteer with Out Of Bounds.

“These events help bring people together who are isolated from their friends/community while experiencing pain and trauma. You realize that you are not alone. This experience is not your fault. Healing is a long journey, but there is hope and help along the way.” Shared Kristine, another lead volunteer.

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