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

BY: AYESHA KHAN

Reverend Sky Starr is no stranger to the realities of gun violence. As a grief counselor and executive director of Out Of Bounds, she has been soothing and caring for the bereaved 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 all over the GTA and even across the border. As a familiar, established and published voice on the subject, she has been candid about the traumatic effects of gun violence and the drastic measures needed to end it.

“Gun violence trauma is not only crippling, it lasts a lifetime. Children, young people, mothers, families and communities are continually affected. I am honored to provide competent care to victims and survivors over the past 17 years, while raising awareness of the need for tangible and permanent solutions to help survivors.

Reverend Sky argues that what’s missing from the conversation is a public health approach. For this reason, Out Of Bounds has hosted multiple conversations about the many facets of this crisis. This month, for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week from May 15-21, 2022, Out Of Bounds is hosting its 5th annual VSCW event, a panel titled “Is gun violence a public health issue?” »

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

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

The diverse and experienced panel of experts will approach the issue of gun violence from a public health and community safety perspective, to focus on the unseen dimensions of the problem and offer key solutions that can be implemented.

Also during the week is a Survivors Social on May 16, where victims, bereaved families and allies can join for support and community empowerment; especially important as this year’s theme for Victims and Survivors of Crime 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 lifesaving nourishment for families in need, especially black mothers who have lost children to gun violence.

“I started going to these groups five years ago and I can’t wait to come. I was hopeless when I started, because I lost my son. but i get a new message every time and it helps me to cope. It’s very important work that Rev does and I try to bring in someone new every time. Shared a mother who wished to be known as P.

“[I] has received [a] clear message: “You are not alone” because you are among friends. They’ve been there and they know how it feels. You are never judged as you learn to deal with your grief. Collette shared.

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

“This event, the only one of its kind, fills a critical gap by bringing together the community (victims, survivors, decision makers and first responders) to de-stigmatize the impact of gun violence – the first step towards achieving lasting healing.” From Melinda, longtime volunteer with Out Of Bounds.

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