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Fifteen years after Jordan Manners was killed in a Toronto school, Canada’s largest city is still struggling to curb youth violence. (Shutterstock)

How can we slow down youth gun violence? — Podcast

It was 15 years ago: police officers flooded C. W. Jefferys Collegiate in northwest Toronto. Outside, hundreds of anxious parents stood waiting for answers. The news that police delivered — as we now know — was tragic.

Fifteen-year-old Jordan Manners had been killed. It was the first time anyone had been fatally shot inside a Toronto school. Jordan’s death stunned his community and the nation. And for many, it punctured the illusion of safety in Canadian schools.

Since then, we’ve seen a slew of reports and funds directed at anti-violence projects in Toronto. But youth violence in Canada’s largest city hasn’t let up.

In fact, it’s getting worse.

This year, on Valentine’s Day, a student was fatally shot inside a Toronto high school and in October, another shooting happened outside a school.

In the Toronto District School Board, the number of physical assaults has risen by 174 per cent between 2014 and 2019 and the number of incidents involving a weapon has risen by 60 per cent.

Why is gun violence increasing? And can we slow it down?

Devon Jones has spent the past 15 years tackling these very questions. He is a teacher and well-recognized youth worker in the Jane and Finch community — where Jordan Manners was killed. It has been described as Toronto’s most dangerous area to be a kid.

Jones has seen many students who have lost their lives to violence over the years, including Manners. But he has also saved many lives through programs offered by YAAACE — an organization he founded in 2007 that focuses on basketball and academics. He’s a busy man, who had just rushed from dealing with a youth emergency before talking to us from school.

One of the former volunteers of Jones’s organization is Ardavan Eizadirad. Eizadirad is now the executive director of YAAACE. He is also an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University who has written about the root causes of gun violence.

Join us on Don’t Call Me Resilient as we speak to Jones and Eizadirad about the rising rates of gun violence in Canada and the role community organizations play in the solution.

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Articles in the Conversation

Read the companion article to this episode of Don’t Call Me Resilient:

To resolve youth violence, Canada must move beyond policing and prison

Read more: Canada shouldn't be smug about gun violence — it's a growing problem here, too

Read more: Gun violence can be reduced with a strategy focused on deterrence

Read more: Canada once sold the idea that guns turned boys into men

Read more: ‘Thugs’ is a race-code word that fuels anti-Black racism

Read more: Toronto mass shooting: How the city is coping a month later

Read more: Calls for stronger handgun laws in Canada have deep roots

Read more: Proposed Canadian gun bill will create U.S.-style patchwork of firearms laws


Two School Shootings, 15 Years Apart

Student fatally shot inside Toronto high school

Shooting outside Toronto high school leaves 1 dead, 1 teen injured

Prevalence and Impact of Harassment and Violence against Educators in Canada

The death of Jordan Manners tore apart his school. How C.W. Jefferys was resurrected. the Toronto Star by Andrea Gordon

How American gun deaths and gun laws compare to Canada’s

Youth Association for Academics, Athletics, and Character Education (YAAACE)

Don’t Call Me Resilient is produced in partnership with the Journalism Innovation Lab at the University of British Columbia and with a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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