In The Media

Black Futures Month: Five Torontonians imagine a city without anti-Black racism

The province will spend $784 million this year to build or renovate 79 schools. It’s a big number but Urban Alliance on Race Relations president Nigel Barriffe, who is also a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) elementary school teacher, is looking beyond it. In fact, he calls it woefully inadequate when compared to the actual needs of youth in schools. Investing in education, particularly for the city’s most vulnerable students, requires a holistic approach that understands that the barriers Black youth face might manifest as problems in the classroom but largely start with systemic issues outside of it.

New Muslim fellowship connects civic-minded students with city councillors

The Muslim Youth Fellowship was organized by two leaders of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Mohammed Hashim and Nora Hindy, who came up with the idea during the federal election in 2015, when they noticed a high level of political engagement and interest within the GTA’s Muslim community. “We wanted to create an opportunity for young Muslims to democratically engage and give back to the city in a meaningful way,” says Hashim, who is also a senior organizer for the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. The fellowship received initial funding from the Atkinson and Laidlaw foundations, and received more than 60 applications for the first round of internships.

Lawyer Julian Falconer has built a career representing families of people killed by police or in custody

The officer who shot Donaldson was charged and acquitted of manslaughter. Falconer, a few years into his career, agreed to represent the Urban Alliance on Race Relations at the coroner’s inquest into Donaldson’s death.

“That was the first time as a lawyer that I took a real shot at understanding how to disassemble a police narrative,” said Falconer.

Judgeship fitting for SIU’s Scott

I would like to express thanks and appreciation to Ian Scott for his civilian oversight leadership of policing in Ontario, and the successful completion of his five-year tenure as the director of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

During his tenure, I believe that he has improved the ability of the SIU to serve the public interest, and increased public confidence in the ability of the SIU to investigate, resolve or refer for prosecution the increasing number of cases involving police interactions with the public that result in either serious injuries or death, or sexual assault cases involving police.

Report recommending changes to the police complaints system released today

The panel, “Future Directions for the Ontario Police Complaints System: Recommendations from the Community, Police and Policy-makers," featured key speakers Tam Goossen, vice-president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations; Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall of the Ontario Human Rights Commission; Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board; and Assistant Professor Jennifer Schulenberg, University of Waterloo.

Safety concerns for families expressed

Tears and determination accompanied serious words of advocacy at a mid-August press conference for victims of police shootings and their families at the offices of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations in downtown Toronto.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) representing 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario co-hosted the conference with Urban Alliance on Race Relations, the Black Action Defence Coalition, the families of the victims and the organization from Grief to Action.

Justice’s connections troubling

We are concerned about the optics of Justice Dennis O’Connor connection to law firm Borden Ladner Gervais and this law firm’s connection to the Toronto Police Service. We believe that the internal review must be conducted by someone with impeccable impartiality.

It is problematic that Justice O’Connor’s law firm “BLG has acted for the insurers of the Toronto Police Service in civil suits, some of which include allegations of the wrongful use of lethal force. Currently, lawyers at BLG are acting on a number of such matters.”

“All the wounds reopened again”

"Enough. Enough," said Jackie Christopher, tears in the corners of her eyes as she sat before the cameras in the offices of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations at Yonge and Carlton. "Something has to be done. And until the system starts to hold the officers who do these things responsible, it's going to keep happening again and again and again."

When the news of Yatim's slaying came on the television three weeks ago, Christopher said, she couldn't bear to watch, so similar were his final moments to those of her son.

Ghosts of police shootings past haunt us still

It was like the bad old days of police-community relations in the 10th-floor offices of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations Tuesday. There the families of police shooting victims past (Trevor Graham, Byron Debassige, Levi Schaeffer, Sylvia Klibingaitis, O'Brien Christopher- Reid) relived their horror stories for the assembled media. Tears were shed. Emotions ran high. Questions were asked. Why isn't more being done to investigate Yatim's shooting? Why is only one officer, 14 Division Constable James Forcillo, being investigated when a second on the scene tasered Yatim after he'd been shot? The ghosts of past police-community battles swirled around the room.

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