Alison Symington, Everyday Advocacy

My Voice

“What can we as a community do?”

The horrifying murder on Queen Street E. last week prompted many emotional messages on this list and other fora. Several people asked: “What can we as a community do?”

Many community members have donated to the fund to support the deceased’s family. It is heart-warming to see this outpouring of support! There have been a few other suggestions of actions to take in some other posts.

I want to offer up another suggestion. That is, support the organizations here in Leslieville and the east end that provide services for children and youth. Research demonstrates that having strong foundations has lifelong implications for health, happiness, and success. Many children and youth in our neighbourhood need support! Education disruptions due to COVID, the unavailability of healthcare, housing crisis, skyrocketing grocery prices, in combination with high rates of mental ill-health, systemic racism, gender-based violence and discrimination, are having a very detrimental impact on the growth and development of our kids.

Thinking longer-term, I believe that by supporting these kids now — providing care, opportunities, safety, skills, self-confidence, and basic needs — will help them grow and develop. It will open up opportunities and help steer them away from gangs, violence, and illegal/anti-social activity.

Organizations are struggling to meet the increasing demands. Research shows that organizations serving Black, Indigenous and other racialized clients are particularly lacking in funding. Many people in our neighbourhood are in the position to help — by donating, volunteering, and promoting their work.

This is my suggestion. If you do not agree with it or are not interested, that’s fine! Please feel free to continue scrolling.

In no particular order, here are some local children/youth organizations that come to mind for me (I am not affiliated with any of them). I invite others to add east end children/youth organizations in the comments. Together, as a community, we can make a difference and honour Karolina’s legacy.

  • Red Door Shelter and Nellie’s. Both offer shelter services for women and children feeling violence & homelessness.
  • Big Brother Big Sisters Toronto. They match children & teens with mentors who spend a couple of hours with them every week.
  • Charlie’s Free Wheels. Runs a “build-your-own-bike” program that teaches bike mechanic skills and participants get to keep their bike + a helmet and lock.
  • Oya Emerging Filmmakers. A program to kickstart the careers of Black youth looking to enter the film, TV & digital media industries.
  • Woodgreen. Runs numerous child care programs, with ECEs providing lots of learning and fun, plus healthy meals.
  • Bangladeshi-Canadian Communtiy Services which has a new project “Resilient Youth for Change” providing fellowships for youth leaders.
  • Turning Point Youth Services. Youth mental health services.

* Originally posted in the “I am a Leslievillian!” FaceBook group, July 13, 2023.