Monday, March 30, 2015

Canada

The Latest News about Somalis in Canada.
Wararkii ugu danbeeyay ee Soomaalida ku nool wadanka Canada.

Edmonton

Edmonton

EDMONTON (Global News) — Edmonton police have confirmed the death of a man earlier this week was a homicide.

muslim canadians

CBC News – “I’m a Muslim. I’m labelled a terrorist. I trust you, do you you trust me? Give me a hug.”

That’s what Mustafa Mawla’s handwritten signs read as he stood in Toronto’s Dundas Square on a frigid day in January. 

It was part of a social experiment he and a group of young Muslim-Canadian filmmakers undertook to explore their feelings in a country where politicians are ramping up the talk about fighting terrorism.

muslim canadiansStanding there blindfolded, arms outstretched, waiting for hugs on a busy street corner, Mawla wondered if they would ever come.

“I was thinking that most of the time I would be left standing there, that people are going to walk by and that I am going to be cold,” he says.

Mawla and fellow young Muslims know Canadians’ safety in the era of ISIS is about to become a ballot-box issue and they’re nervous, not necessarily about terrorism, but about hate and suspicion.

They have a request for Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Ease up on the rhetoric.

“I would ask him to to take it easy with the words ‘Islam’ and ‘terrorism’ and scaring people that there are jihadis or terrorists among us,” says Assma Galuta, a university student who conceived the “Give me a hug” project and hopes one day to do humanitarian work abroad.

“There are unstable citizens from any faith, any religion, but to target Islam and scare your own citizens… [Harper is] creating a barrier between a lot of people.”

Galuta doesn’t just talk theoretically. The changes she has witnessed in Canada have been swift and at times cruel.

She maintains she lost friends after the attacks on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in October, which were perpetrated by a man thought to have been sympathetic to Islamic extremism. 

 ‘Kill the terrorists’

One friend, a Canadian soldier, was so angry after the shootings that he told her it was time to “go and kill the terrorists.” 

She says she tried to talk calmly with him, but he said, “What your people are doing is wrong.”

Your people. That hurt, she says.

Galuta says she has stopped wearing her headscarf. That’s a big deal. She wore it from the age of nine, but now feels targeted because of it.

“As a woman walking home alone at night, it’s one thing to be scared about. But with the scarf on, it’s traumatizing,” she says.

These 20-something Canadians are smart, eloquent, well-read and deeply passionate, but they all agree they are now more careful about expressing their opinions, especially about Canada’s foreign policy or the way this government is handling threats of domestic terrorism. 

Parents are concerned

Maaz Khan, a university student, says his parents are particularly concerned. 

“They don’t want us to get hurt, or us to feel unsafe when we go to school or anywhere. They want us to be safe, that’s why they want us to stay away from these [topics],” he says. 

Mawla’s parents have offered similar cautions. 

“When we go out, my mom tells me, ‘Don’t go out of your way and say things, do things against the media and stuff because if it is taken out of context, then you will be in trouble. The police will say, “Oh, you said this before, so you might be doing this.”‘ Taken out of context, [any commentary] can be used any way.”

It doesn’t feel like the Canada they grew up in. Of that Galuta seems certain.

The good news, however, is that sometimes human kindness wins over fear. It did on the day of the experiment in Dundas Square. 

Mawla, who thought he’d be left standing alone, was hugged — repeatedly. 

One man even stopped his car in the intersection, ran to him, gave him a big bear hug and got back into his car. 

That’s the Canada these young Muslims love and want to defend.

ISIS

ISIS

CBC News — It is thought that another man from Edmonton has been recruited to join ISIS, CBC News has learned.

Omar Aden is in his mid-twenties. He was living in Edmonton before leaving in the summer of 2013 to study Islam in Egypt, members of the city’s Somali community told CBC News.

Several months later, he called his family from Syria.

A relative said Aden previously worked in Fort McMurray, where the family believes he may have fallen in with extremists and was radicalized. 

If confirmed, the man would be the fourth person from Edmonton’s Somali community to join ISIS overseas. Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton, said it shows Canada must do more to address radicalization in its borders.

“There are about 160 Canadians who have left Canada to go out and be part of this terrorizing group,” he said.

“So, we need to look, all of us, into the mirror and say ‘why did we lose those youth and see what could we have done better?’”

Earlier this year, CBC reported three cousins who had been living in Edmonton were killed while fighting for ISIS. According to the father of one of the men, the trio left for Syria in October 2013 and were killed a year later.

Last month, CBC News reported that a young woman who is believed to have joined group was radicalized by someone in Edmonton.

Police look for a person of interest related to a potential threat that forced the closure of the Mic Mac Mall on Tuesday.
Police look for a person of interest related to a potential threat that forced the closure of the Mic Mac Mall on Tuesday.
Police look for a person of interest related to a potential threat that forced the closure of the Mic Mac Mall on Tuesday.

AFP – OTTAWA-Police arrested two men and a woman in a raid Tuesday over a “potential threat” to a mall near Canada’s port city of Halifax, home to the navy’s Atlantic fleet.

It comes after security officials last month warned shoppers in Canada, the United States and Britain to be on guard after an Al-Qaeda-linked militant group posted a video calling for attacks on Western malls.

Halifax Police Constable Pierre Bourdages said a “heavy police presence” was dispatched to the Mic Mac Mall in the Halifax suburb of Dartmouth and the mall was closed for the day, although investigators said the threat had not been confirmed.

Officers raided a small bungalow in connection with the threat, but a suspect was absent and “no dangerous substances” or firearms were found, Bourdages told AFP.

A short time later, an apartment in another part of Halifax was raided and three people — two men and a woman — were taken into custody.
Police said they “have been actively investigating the matter to determine the validity of the threat and to this point no threat has been confirmed.”

The Al-Shabaab militant group last month specifically threatened the Mall of America in the US state of Minnesota, Canada’s massive West Edmonton Mall, London’s famous Oxford Street and two malls in France.

Also last month, an American woman and a Canadian man were arrested and charged with plotting a Valentine’s Day massacre at another mall in Halifax.

A third suspect was found dead at his parents’ home.

Jaamac is hosting a new television show called Somalis in Alberta which airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV. Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal
Jaamac is hosting a new television show called Somalis in Alberta which airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV. Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal
Jaamac is hosting a new television show called Somalis in Alberta which airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV. Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Journal – EDMONTON – People in Alberta’s Somali community will hear their own stories in their own voices on a Somali-language television news program airing Sundays, says the show’s host.

The half-hour Omni television show, called Somalis in Alberta, started in September. Organizers hope to expand the Somali-language program to an hour-long show, said Jaamac, 38, who does not use a last name. Somalis in Alberta is looking for a venue that could hold 60 to 80 people for a talk-show format, said Jaamac, who also hosts a radio show on CJSR called Somalis in Edmonton.

“It’s a kind of identity. Having your own radio and your own TV in the city means you live here. And it’s important for people to tell their story rather than hearing it from someone else,” Jaamac said. “The mainstream media covers (the community) mainly only when there’s a crisis, when there’s something negative happening … So telling successes and showcasing our own stories is something Somali media can do much better than the other media. Seeing ourselves talking about our own issues will be much more helpful.”

About six years ago, Edmonton’s Somali community was rocked by a string of murders that were in the news.

In January, three cousins from Edmonton’s Somali-Canadian community were reportedly killed while fighting overseas for ISIS last fall.

And a week ago, Edmonton police announced they are working with Somali-Canadians and other local Muslim groups to protect against terrorist attacks after a video from Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabaab threatened West Edmonton Mall.

Edmonton’s Somali community organized an event Sunday afternoon at the Central Lions Seniors Recreation Centre, 11113 113 St., to raise funds to support the new TV show and to celebrate the Somali radio show’s 10th anniversary.

Organizers hoped to raise about $20,000 for the Somalis in Alberta TV show, Jaamac said.

“In terms of the TV, this is the only Alberta-wide African TV, and this is the only Somali TV in Edmonton and Alberta,” Jaamac said. “And the radio, we are the only community-based show in the city.”

About 20,000 Somali Canadians live in Edmonton, and close to 35,000 in Alberta, said Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton. There are about 200,000 Somalis living in Canada, he said.

The society recently conducted a year-long research project and one of its findings was that Somali youth saw negative images of themselves portrayed in the media, Ibrahim.

“So one of the things we are planning to do is to showcase the good things that a lot of youth are doing, in terms of going to school and so on,” Ibrahim said. “So this kind of media could be used to increase the portrait of the successful youth and use that as a means of motivating other youth as well.”

Alberta’s Somali community has grown rapidly because of a strong economy that attracts workers, Bashir Ahmed, executive director of the Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization.

Jaamac, who hosts the TV and radio shows as a volunteer, has been pushing for a long time to create a Somali TV show to connect the community, Ahmed said.

“He’s a great guy and he persisted,” Ahmed said. “We are very pleased now to have this kind of community TV.”

Somalis in Alberta airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV and is rebroadcast Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 8:30 a.m.

Anwar Hared grew up playing hockey in Canada, which instantly made him the star of the rookie bandy team cobbled together among the expat Somali community in Sweden.
Anwar Hared grew up playing hockey in Canada, which instantly made him the star of the rookie bandy team cobbled together among the expat Somali community in Sweden.
Anwar Hared grew up playing hockey in Canada, which instantly made him the star of the rookie bandy team cobbled together among the expat Somali community in Sweden.

Toronto Star – In Newmarket, Anwar Hared was just another minor league hockey player: average, albeit enthusiastic. In Khabarovsk, a sprawling city in Russia’s frigid Far East, the 18-year-old solidified his position as the star of Somalia’s national bandy team.

“I’ve never had a better trip in my life,” Hared says from his parents’ Newmarket home. “Once you put the flag on your chest, it’s a fight to the death.”

Hared just returned home from the 35th Bandy World Championship in Khabarovsk, which runs through March.

Don’t know what bandy is? Think ice hockey with a ball instead of a puck, on a rink the size of a soccer field. Popular in the Nordic and former Soviet states, this fast-paced sport is dominated by Russia and Sweden.

In five games, Hared’s team scored three goals and allowed 63 on net, putting them dead last out of 17 teams. But consider that three years ago, Hared was the only member of the team who knew how to skate. All of them, Hared says, had the time of their lives in Russia.

“Most of my teammates were born in Somalia,” Hared says. “99 per cent of them have experienced the trauma of war.”

“Just to see the players participate in a world cup . . . was great,” team manager Cia Embretsen says. “The players were treated as heroes and idols.”

The unlikely story of Somalia’s national bandy team begins in late 2012 in Borlänge, Sweden, an industrial town 200 km northwest of Stockholm. Fleeing war and poverty, Somalis now number roughly 3,000 out of Borlänge’s population of over 40,000. As elsewhere in Europe, an influx of African and Middle Eastern migrants has sparked an upsurge in far-right politics in this historically liberal state.

Contemplating this, local businessman Patrik Andersson got it in his head that bandy would be the perfect way to bring Swedes and Somalis together. The Federation of International Bandy, the sport’s governing body, and Somalia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports loved the idea. Players — mostly teens and twenty-somethings who were born in Somalia — were drawn from a local Somali soccer team, and spent nearly a year training before the 34th Bandy World Championship in January 2014.All of this, however, was happening unbeknown to Hared.

Hared’s parents left their beleaguered nation for Canada five years before their son was born. Like many Canadians, Hared grew up playing hockey.

In late 2013, he got a call from a family friend in Sweden.

Soft-spoken, with a broad, easy smile, Hared laughs at the memory. “They asked me if I wanted to play bandy…I’d never even heard of the sport.”

Hared, of course, said yes. The friend contacted the team. They were thrilled: a Canadian ringer! In less than three weeks, Hared, a Grade 12 student at the time, found himself on a plane to Sweden. He spent one day practising with his new teammates and then flew to Russia for their first international tournament.

Those first games were both rough and fun. The players, still wobbly on their skates, kept wiping out as they dashed madly after the ball. But they played with heart. Hared managed to score the team’s first ever goal: a brilliant five-hole shot, right between a German goalkeeper’s legs. Somalia would go on to lose that game 22-1. The team only managed to score three goals in the 2014 tournament. Two of them were Hared’s.

“I don’t want to be cocky or anything,” Hared says sheepishly, “but they think I’m the team’s offensive weapon.”

Emretsen, one of the team’s managers, agrees.

“Anwar was the team’s star and a great asset… both on and off the ice,” she says.The team lost all of their games in 2014, finishing dead last behind a Winnipeg-based Canadian team that did not compete in 2015. This year, Hared was back in Russia for the team’s second international tournament, scoring one goal in a bout against China.

“I’d say that was my best game.”

Fans and other players were nothing but encouraging, Hared says. Spectators, he says, cheered disproportionately for the Somali underdogs, and the team even attracted a group of diehard Russian superfans who followed them wherever they’d go. They did, however, get more than a few curious looks in Khabarovsk.

“A lot of them had never seen African people before,” Hared laughs. “We had to pose for a lot of photos.”

A first-year economics student at Queen’s University, Hared says most of his peers have no idea what he’s been up to in Russia. Humble to the core, he says he’d like to keep it that way. In Somalia, however, he’s become something of a minor celebrity — the Facebook friend requests don’t stop. Hared even features prominently in a documentary about the Somali bandy team called Trevligt Folk (or “Nice People” in English) currently playing in Swedish cinemas.

Hared dreams of being able to help rebuild the country his parents fled, as a development worker, and plans to take his first trip to Somalia this summer. He’ll also be front and centre on the ice for the 36th Bandy World Championship in 2016.

“Obviously, a championship is out of the question, but we’d love to win a game next year,” he says.

“I want people to realize that despite the war, good things do happen in Somalia.”

BANDY AT A GLANCE

A bright pink ball replaces a puck in this fast-paced sport, usually played outdoors on ice the size of a soccer field (about four times the size of an NHL rink). Teams field 10 players and a stickless goalkeeper who has to use his body and gloved hands to stop balls travelling upwards of 150 km/h from entering a net 2.1 metres high and 3.5 metres wide — more than three times the size of those used by the NHL. Players use hooked sticks and usually play two halves of 45 minutes each. Rules are similar to ice hockey, though most physical contact is banned.

Bandy might seem obscure, but hundreds of thousands of amateurs play in Russia and Nordic nations. Championship games in Russian and Swedish leagues can attract tens of thousands of spectators, and players can even net six-figure salaries.

Bandy’s rules were formalized in Britain in the late 19th century. As hockey spread across North America in the same period, bandy took root in Eastern Europe. It quickly became a national sport in Russia, where it’s sometimes known as “Russian hockey” (as opposed to “Canadian hockey”). Our version of hockey only took off in Russia in the mid 20th century. Soviet athletes soon excelled at the sport, thanks to their years playing on bandy’s oversized rinks.

Bandy was a demonstration sport in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. Russia had lobbied to have it included in the 2014 Sochi Games, but their bid failed because too few nations actually play the sport.

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 3.49.08 AM

Screen shot 2015-02-24 at 3.49.08 AMGlobal News — EDMONTON — Edmonton’s large Somali community is “disgusted” and “insulted” to be mentioned in a recent video allegedly released by Somali-based extremist group Al-Shabab.

“This group is known to have caused a lot of destruction and death back in Somalia,” said Jibril Ibrahim, the president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton. “They are despised both inside and outside [of Somalia].”

“This is kind of an act of desperation on their side,” he added.

“Mentioning our name in one of the threats they are making is kind of disgusting and an insult to our community.”

The video, posted Saturday to a YouTube account allegedly linked to Al-Shabab, encourages an attack on West Edmonton Mall. The more than hour-long video discusses the September 2013 attack by the al Qaeda-linked terror group at a Kenya mall that lasted days and left more than 60 people dead.

In the video’s last few minutes, a man with his face covered speaks in perfect English, appealing for the viewer to “imagine” the scope of destruction possible. He then lists shopping malls that could be targets, including the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall.

“We call on our Muslim brothers, particularly those in the West, to answer the call of Allah and target the disbelievers,” says the man in the video. “The disbelievers have no right whatsoever to rejoice in the safety of their lands until safety becomes a reality in Palestine and all the lands of Islam.”

The video has yet to be authenticated by any major law enforcement agency, but the RCMP is aware of the threats made against the mall in the video and is investigating.

“There is no evidence at this time of any specific or imminent threat to Canadians,” RCMP Staff Sgt. Brent Meyer said Sunday morning. “We take any threat to our country’s national security very seriously.”

Ibrahim says the Somali community in Edmonton has been working with police and spoke with them Sunday. The EPS said all threats against public safety are taken very seriously but that there is no imminent threat to Edmontonians or Canadians.

“The discussion that we had with the police department is that we also have to do our best to take whatever precautions that we need to take,” said Ibrahim. “On the community level, we’re doing our best to make sure that no inappropriate activity takes place.”

“We share information within the community and the police. We work together on two fronts. When they hear something they let us know. When we hear something, we let them know as well.”

The Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton website states Canada is home to one of the largest Somali populations in the Western world, with as many as 20,000 Somalians living in Edmonton.

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson released a statement saying Edmontonians should feel confident the city is safe, and people should not overreact. He also said it’s “equally concerning to hear the appeal directed toward a specific group.”

“For this kind of group to come out and use our name here in Edmonton is kind of insulting,” echoed Ibrahim. “We don’t anticipate anybody acting on any threat from those kinds of groups.”

“All the Somalis from our community from Edmonton, Alberta are hard-working people.

“They are part of the fabric and trying to make Canada the best place. They’re not here to try to cause damage to anyone.”

University of Alberta political science professor Tom Butko feels people should balance vigilance with calm.

“This is a serious situation, but at the end of the day, I think people need to take that vigilance but also realize that they need to live their lives and not let fear encompass everything.

“The terrorists win and that’s really true if we’re living our lives in fear.”

(Source: Global News)

BRIDGELAND

BRIDGELAND

Calgary Herald – Calgary has lost a legendary business man, restaurant owner and personality.

Marco Abdi, owner of Italian restaurant La Brezza in Bridgeland for about 30 years, died of lung cancer on Sunday in a Calgary hospital. He was 59. A public memorial service and celebration of his life is being planned.

“My father’s kind, compassionate, and strong legacy perseveres within the countless lives he touched each day he lived on this earth. His million-dollar smile and amazing personality will be greatly missed. My family and I could not have imagined a greater father, husband, friend and role model even if we tried,” said his daughter Madina.

Over the years, the restaurant has hosted luminaries including movie and rock stars, top business executive, as well as top political leaders.

Marco Abdi ran popular Italian restaurant La Brezza for a number of years in Bridgeland.
Marco Abdi ran popular Italian restaurant La Brezza for a number of years in Bridgeland.

Abdi came from humble beginnings. He left his home in Somalia in the late 1970s to work in Rome as a caretaker in a restaurant. He came to Calgary in 1980 and worked as a janitor in a professional medical building across the street from where his Italian restaurant now resides. At that time, he was making $800 a month and thought “it was a big deal,” he told the Herald years ago.

His big smile, which always greeted customers to his restaurant, was infectious. No matter what day it was, you were bound to hear Marco say “Merry Christmas” in a conversation with him. You could say it was his mantra.

“People wait until Dec. 25 to call you and say ‘Merry Christmas,’ ” Abdi told the Herald several years ago.

“For me, every day is Merry Christmas. My father told me that you are born with nothing and you die with nothing and every day between is Christmas. When you die you’re not going to take anything with you. My gift to you is happiness.”

He leaves behind his wife Filomena as well as children Madina, 24, Khadija, 22, and Maurizio, 13.

Besides his restaurant, Abdi also had business interests in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates in the Middle East through his connection and friendship with the Royal Family there.

Yousef Traya, of the family-owned Bridgeland Market and Tazza Deli & Grill just down the street from La Brezza, said the family met Abdi in 1981 and he became like an uncle to the children.

“That’s the personal side. On the business side, he kind of put Bridgeland on the map in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” said Traya. “All of his charity work . . . He always had that million-dollar smile. He was amazing. He could have probably opened up another La Brezza anywhere else in the city after he got big but he stuck to what he did, lived in the neighbourhood, raised his family in the neighbourhood and he was always around the neighbourhood. You always saw him. He winked and smiled at everybody when he drove by.

“He did a lot for the community. Volunteered. There wasn’t a person that he wouldn’t help out. He was the type of person that if he saw a homeless guy picking out of the garbage, he would make him a bowl of pasta . . . The odds were always against him but he always came out on top. I look at him and what he did and what he went through to do what he did, it’s an inspiration to all.”

John Gilchrist, a well-known restaurant reviewer, said Abdi’s character was one of the reasons La Brezza was so successful over the years.

“He was such an indomitable force of nature. This positive, high energy, irrepressible guy who was just out there to be of service and to give the best that he possibly could every single day,” said Gilchrist. “I never saw him without a smile on his face. Never saw him without an offer of a coffee or a glass of wine or some food. He was just the ultimate sort of restaurateur wanting to serve his clients all the time.”

One of Abdi’s last wishes was that he wanted to be buried according to the Muslim custom. That took place on Monday.

Abdi’s brother-in-law, business partner in UAE ventures and a best friend, Domenic Buonincontri, said the family is trying to decide what to do with the restaurant.

“We’re discussing that right now,” he said. “What I really wanted is that it stayed in the family but the challenge there is that Marco was such a huge part of the goodwill of that restaurant. We’re trying to get our heads around how that all works.

“It truly is a family legacy. Most of those recipes are my mom’s . . . The hard part is the actual day-to-day operations. The family is discussing the options.”

Buonincontri said Abdi’s legacy is his relationships he built over the years.

“He was very caring and very giving. He was always the first one to step up to the plate,” he said. “He always opened up his arms to anyone that needed it. He did so not expecting anything in return. He did it openly.”

Source: Calgary Herald
mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com
Twitter.com/MTone123

Discarded clothing lies on a sidewalk at the scene of a multiple shooting in Calgary on New Year's Day. Former Toronto resident Abdullahi Ahmed died in hospital from his wounds, while six others suffered various injuries.

Toronto Star

Discarded clothing lies on a sidewalk at the scene of a multiple shooting in Calgary on New Year's Day. Former Toronto resident Abdullahi Ahmed died in hospital from his wounds, while six others suffered various injuries.
Discarded clothing lies on a sidewalk at the scene of a multiple shooting in Calgary on New Year’s Day. Former Toronto resident Abdullahi Ahmed died in hospital from his wounds, while six others suffered various injuries.

The Toronto Somali community is concerned about a possible resurgence of violence in Alberta following the New Year’s Day murder of a Somali man in Calgary, says a community leader.

Abdullahi Ahmed, 26, sustained life-threatening injuries when gunshots rang out at a Calgary house party Thursday morning, said police. Six other victims in their early 20s and 30s also received injuries ranging from minor to serious, said police.

Ahmed later died in hospital.

“It’s sad — a young person who’s not even 30 years old,” said Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress. “It’s one more loss for this community.”

Ahmed’s cousin in Calgary told media the young man moved from Toronto to Calgary six years ago. His mother was on her way to Calgary from Toronto after learning of the shooting, she said.

“It’s becoming a familiar pattern — (young Somali men) from Ontario dying in Alberta,” said Hussen, who added that members of the Somali community also told him Ahmed lived in Toronto.

“You can’t help but think that this is part of that larger picture that we were dealing with for so many years.”

Hussen recalled a time when dozens of Somali men, many from Toronto, were killed in Alberta between 2008 and 2011 amid gang and drug turf warfare in the prosperous oil communities. Some had simply been killed in the crossfire, a situation of hanging out with the wrong people at the wrong time.

But Hussen had been confident violence in the community was easing up. In 2009, leaders in the Somali community made concerted efforts to combat the spike in violence in Alberta, he said. The community reached out to school-aged children — encouraging them to stay in school — and worked closely with police to bring about change, he said.

Now, the Toronto Somali community is on edge.

“Is this a resurgence? Will it start to repeat itself on a monthly basis the way it did in 2008 and 2009?” he asked. “I’m concerned that this may not be the last (murder).”

At a news conference Thursday, Calgary police Insp. Ryan Ayliffe said police are still seeking answers in their “complex” investigation.

He said police believe the residence where Ahmed was shot was targeted but police did not have a motive. They were unsure if one person specifically was targeted and did not have suspects, he said.

The shots came from inside the home, where more that 50 people gathered, resulting in injuries to partygoers and a bystander who was driving by the residence, he said.

Ayliffe said it was “too early speculate” on the possibility the violence was gang-related. He also said he could not comment on Ahmed’s alleged criminal past.

Ayliffe said some witnesses police spoke with were from the Somali community. He was appealing to community leaders to encourage more witnesses to come forward.

At a news conference Thursday, police were asked if there was a link between the shooting victim and the Toronto Police’s ongoing Project Traveller investigation into members of the Dixon City Bloods.

Duty Inspector Quinn Jacques said he did not have information on the victim at the time.

Toronto police were unable to confirm if they were involved in the Calgary investigation.

“We don’t generally comment on investigations by other agencies,” said Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash.

Ayliffe said police were also investigating a suspicious death Friday in Calgary, but he did not think the two incidents were linked.

NDP's Faisal Hassan 1

NDP's Faisal Hassan 1

Toronto – After serving the NDP and the Canadian public in various capacities, Mr. Faisal Hassan, a prominent social activist and human rights advocate is seeking the NDP nomination for the next Federal election in Etobicoke North.From housing activist to published author to broadcaster to political assistant, Faisal Hassan has a proven track record as a progressive activist in his community. He is a highly respected community leader who has dedicated his life to serving residents of diverse backgrounds.

“I am thrilled to put forward my name for the federal nomination with the NDP and look forward to building strong and vibrant communities. Together, we will build on our strengths and successes while addressing the gaps in social and economic well- being to benefit all Canadians” says Faisal Hassan, who has long supported a progressive agenda and represents an experienced voice in his community.

Faisal Hassan says he is in the race because he strongly believes in the NDP. With strong roots in a riding he strongly believes in, Faisal is calling upon Etobicoke North residents to support his nomination stating that he is fully committed to addressing all issues affecting residents in the critically important Federal riding.

NDP's Faisal Hassan 2

“It’s where I live, and it’s where I chose to live. It’s the community that has given me a lot, and I want to ensure the same opportunities exist for all residents of Etobicoke North. I believe in job creation, dealing with issues of income inequality, public transit, clean air and clean water. I know that with your help, together, we can build a better Etobicoke North “states Faisal Hassan.

Faisal currently works as an assistant to NDP MP, Mike Sullivan and as one of Canada’s leading Somali to English literary translators. He has written a novel and formerly hosted a popular Somali-Canadian radio program. In addition, he served on the volunteer boards of the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation and Brampton’s Habitat for Humanity. He is an active member of Unifor Local 232.

Etobicoke North is home to a large segment of population comprising of low-income families many of whom live in priority neighbourhoods. Faisal’s experience in this area will be critical as he has worked extensively with low-income persons and those who are at risk of homelessness. He was a driving force behind many initiatives that addressed the unmet needs of Toronto’s homeless population through his work with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, Housing Connections and as an Internal Review Panel member. He was also active with the Immigrant and Refugee Housing Task Group, which brings together representatives of different levels of government, academics, and community-based groups to share information, develop new strategies and advocate for positive change in housing policy.

A strong advocate for housing, Faisal’s is well-known for his successes in getting the issues of homelessness, refugee housing and settlement addressed. He proposed the Red Cross First Contact Project which provides strategic intervention when and where new refugee claimants need it most – on arrival at a Canadian port of entry.In political life, Faisal previously worked for former NDP MPP, Paul Ferreira and is formerly the President of the York South–Weston NDP.

Over the years, Faisal Hassan has tirelessly mobilized ongoing support for his community bringing their outstanding issues to the attention of the NDP. He has organized numerous community events that brought together residents, key stakeholders and policy makers in bid to find lasting and durable solutions to multitude of concerns raised by community members of diverse backgrounds and needs.

Some of the key events he helped organize include community round table forums that brought NDP leaders to come and listen to the public with view of working collaboratively with stakeholders to address critical issues affecting the community at large by employing effective implementation plans.The well attended party-sponsored round tables were aimed at engaging NDP leaders in group sessions with concerned residents that set forth their vision for tackling such critical issues as housing, unemployment, public transit and public safety concerns.

Faisal Hassan has secured high profile endorsements from key NDP personalities who heaped praise on the Etobicoke North candidate through statements released in promotional videos.

Ed Philip, former NDP MPP, from 1975-1995 and a cabinet minister in the Bob Rae government said “Faisal Hassan has a good knowledge of federal politics and would make us an excellent member of parliament” while Diana Andrews, a teacher and former NDP candidate in Etobicoke North noted that “Faisal Hassan gets things done, works hard and knows his community in Etobicoke North.”

“Faisal is a great candidate for Etobicoke North. He has been with York South- Weston for quite some time; it is a successful Riding Association and has done a great job. I think Faisal would be a great candidate for Etobicoke North because he knows the issues very well. He is for diversity, he is for change and we need change in Etobicoke North “said Patricia Crooks, the President of the Etobicoke North NDP Riding Association.

“I can’t think of a more fair- minded, interesting, caring person than Faisal Hassan. He would take your concerns to Ottawa and be available to you when you need” observed Joan Bonk-Mackenzie, a retired TCDSB teacher and former school board trustee.Charan Hundal, an Etobicoke North NDP Provincial Council Delegate stated “I strongly endorse Mr. Faisal Hassan as our Federal candidate for Etobicoke North” while Barry Marsh, an Etobicoke North NDP Executive Committee Member said “Faisal has been very active in York South-Weston Riding and has done a lot of work in Etobicoke North.”

A proud resident of Etobicoke North, Faisal Hassan was educated at the University of Winnipeg where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Justice, Law Enforcement and Administrative studies. He also holds a Certificate in Project Management from Humber College. If nominated, Faisal Hassan will undoubtedly be a strong candidate for his party and an extremely powerful and influential voice for his community.

Yusuf Mohamed Calgary Canada

Global TV (Canada)

Yusuf Mohamed Calgary CanadaThree days after a prominent member of Calgary’s Somali community was robbed and shot in the face, police continue their search for two men.

Yusuf Mohamed was shot by the two masked men during a holdup Friday night at his money exchange store on 17th Avenue southeast. He survived but was rushed to hospital in critical condition.

Mudhir Mohamed runs a grocery store a few blocks away from the shooting scene and is a friend of the victim.

“He was a good guy who was a community man, who cares about what is happening with violence and all these things,” said Mohamed. “He was very helpful and was sponsoring sports and youth.”

Mohamed is also concerned about the impact of the shooting on businesses along International Avenue.

A photo of Yusuf Mohamed, who was shot during a robbery at his southeast business.
A photo of Yusuf Mohamed, who was shot during a robbery at his southeast business.

“The main concern now is security,” he said. “Some of the customers are now saying ‘oh guys, we are not coming here soon because it’s not safe.”

Just two months ago, Mudhir attended the funeral of Maqsood Ahmed, who was stabbed to death outside his store during a robbery.

“This is about in general the people who are living at Iternational Avenue, or Forest Lawn. “They need to be protected.”

Hussein Warsame has know Yusuf for 15 years. He says these these acts of violence need to be addressed not only by police and the community, but also by business owners who may need to step up their security.

“They would like to believe that Calgary is a safe city and they don’t have to hire a lot of expensive security guards,” said Warsame. “But it seems that  maybe that’s not the case; maybe the police cannot be everywhere.”

Business owners are also concerned the assailants in both Ahmed’s murder and Yusuf’s shooting remain at large.

“Sometimes we say there is no difference between Mogadishu and Forest Lawn,” said Mohamed.

Last summer, Calgary police introduced a 16-member beat team dedicated to policing International Avenue along with regular district officers.

Police at scene of shooting at 50 St. and 17 Ave. S.E. Man is his 60s has been shot in the mouth on Friday December 5, 2014, in Calgary, Alta . Jim Wells/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

CTV News

Police at scene of shooting at 50 St. and 17 Ave. S.E. Man is his 60s has been shot in the mouth on Friday December 5, 2014, in Calgary, Alta . Jim Wells/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency
Police at scene of shooting at 50 St. and 17 Ave. S.E. Man is his 60s has been shot in the mouth on Friday December 5, 2014, in Calgary, Alta . Jim Wells/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

Yousef Mohammed, the victim of a Friday evening shooting along 17 Ave. S.E., is comatose in hospital with his wife at his bedside.

According to Imam Abdi Hersy, Mohammed is considered to be in stable but critical condition.

The imam and dozens of members of Calgary’s Somali community have been to the hospital to show their support for the victim’s family. Yousef Mohammed is married and the father of three young children.

On Friday evening, Mohammed was shot in the neck during a suspected robbery attempt at the Dahab Exchange, the business he owns in Forest Lawn.

Witnesses saw two masked men run from the scene. Police have not made an arrest in connection to the shooting.

Imam Abdi Hersy wants Mohammed’s attackers to come forward.

“My message to them is you need to surrender,” said the imam. “Enough is enough. You have damaged the community and society in general. We don’t need such a thing. We came to Canada to feel safe.”

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Calgary Police Service, 403-266-1234, or Crime Stoppers.

Some 1,500 mourners gathered for the funeral of homicide victims Zahra Abdille and her two sons, Faris and Zain. The funeral was held at the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Etobicoke before they were buried at Beechwood Cemetery.

Toronto Star

Some 1,500 mourners gathered for the funeral of homicide victims Zahra Abdille and her two sons, Faris and Zain. The funeral was held at the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Etobicoke before they were buried at Beechwood Cemetery.
Some 1,500 mourners gathered for the funeral of homicide victims Zahra Abdille and her two sons, Faris and Zain. The funeral was held at the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Etobicoke before they were buried at Beechwood Cemetery.

A huge crowd gathered to honour the lives of Zahra Abdille and her two young sons on Friday, but the slain family had no immediate relatives at their funeral.

Abdille’s mother is dead and her father leads a nomadic lifestyle in East Africa — it’s likely he does not even know his daughter and grandsons are dead, Mughtar Yosow, Abdille’s distant cousin told the Star.

Yosow, who lives in Scarborough, was called by police last Saturday night, after Abdille and her two children were found dead in their Thorncliffe Park Dr. apartment. Abdille’s husband, Yusuf, who is being investigated for the triple homicide, fell to his death on the nearby Don Valley Parkway a few hours before the bodies were discovered.

Yosow had to call Abdille’s family in Kenya to deliver the news.

The bodies of Abdille, 43, and her sons, Faris, 13, and Zain, 8, were released to Yosow. He was responsible for arranging their funeral and burial.

“No immediate family are here,” Yosow told the Star as gravediggers shoveled dirt onto the three caskets lined up side by side in the Beechwood Cemetery grave.

Abdille and her sons were wrapped in white shroud, in keeping with Muslim tradition. Her casket was placed in between her children in the grave.

Yosow told the Star Abdille and her sons died from stab wounds. Police would not confirm their cause of death on Friday, saying the investigation is still ongoing.

Mughtar said relatives in Kenya are reeling over the deaths.

“It’s unbelievable. You can’t do any worse than this,” he said.

Abdille, who worked as a Toronto Public Health nurse, fled to an abused women’s shelter last year where she tried to get an emergency court order for the custody of her children, the Star reported Tuesday.

But, she did not have enough evidence to prove her children were in danger, she could not afford a lawyer and she did not qualify for legal aid, so Abdille returned to her violent home.

Mughtar said Abdille would visit him often, the last time he saw her was about a month ago, but he had no idea she was a victim of domestic abuse.

“I never knew he was violent. I knew he was a controlling creature, but I didn’t know he was violent,” Mughtar said.

Mourner Robert Doucett met the Abdilles when they arrived in Toronto as refugee immigrants in the late 1990s and moved into an apartment that he was supervising.

“Never in 20 years did I hear any comment from Zahra about any kind of problem or physical abuse in the home,” he said at the burial.

“I’m numb. I don’t know what to think about it. I loved them all very much and all I can do is weep.”

Doucett said he thought Yusuf Abdille, who worked as a mechanic in Toronto, was a “nice man.”

The funeral for Abdille and her children was held at the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Etobicoke and chairman Said Omar said about 1,500 people attended.

Women and men were in separate rooms, divided by a wall. Abdille’s open casket, at first on view in the women’s room, was later moved, to be placed next to her children in the men’s room.

The women were seated close together in rows on the floor, some weeping into their hijabs during the service.

“The whole entire Muslim community shares this sorrow. It is a tragedy we share. It unites us,” Omar said during the service.

Zahra Abdille fled Kenya for Canada in the late 1990s. She married Yusuf Abdille in Toronto in 1998.

Slain nurse Zahra Abdille, with her son, Faris, and husband, Yusuf. COURTESY SONIA BERRY

Toronto Star

Slain nurse Zahra Abdille, with her son, Faris, and husband, Yusuf. COURTESY SONIA BERRY
Slain nurse Zahra Abdille, with her son, Faris, and husband, Yusuf. COURTESY SONIA BERRY

The legal system failed Zahra Abdille and her children and they returned to the violent home where they were eventually killed.

Last year Zahra Abdille cried out for help, fleeing her husband for a safe house and asking for an emergency court order to protect her young sons.

But she didn’t have enough evidence to prove her children were at risk. She couldn’t get the financial documents asked of her. She didn’t qualify for legal aid and because her husband controlled their bank account, she couldn’t afford a lawyer, according to her close friend.

After three weeks in an abused women’s shelter, Abdille returned to the violent East York home where she and her children, Faris, 13, and Zain, 8, were found dead on Saturday. Yusuf Abdille, her husband and the father of their children, died after plummeting off a nearby bridge the same day.

Police have not ruled out Yusuf Abdille as the perpetrator in the triple homicide.

A funeral for Zahra Abdille and her children takes place on Friday at the Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque in Etobicoke.

Some observers suggest the Toronto Public Health nurse fell through the cracks because she was not identified to court staff as a victim of domestic abuse. Others, however, say the legal system was difficult for her to navigate from day one.

“An ordinary person has a hard time with our system, but if you add all the layers of domestic violence — exclusion, fear and juggling children, it makes it that much harder. Just getting through the paperwork is daunting,” said Amanda Dale, executive director of Toronto’s Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, which specializes in domestic violence cases.

Abdille’s relationship with her husband of 17 years had been volatile since the early 2000s, according to one of her closest friends, Sonia Berry. He would belittle Abdille in public and abuse her in private, Berry told the Star.

In a desperate attempt to protect her children, Abdille fled to a women’s shelter in July 2013 and went to court twice to try to file an ex parte motion to gain sole custody without her husband’s consent, according to Roz Roach, executive director of the shelter, Dr. Roz’s Healing Place.

An ex parte order, which would have allowed Abdille to impose a restraining order against her husband, is only granted in extreme cases to protect children in danger.
Abdille’s motion was denied because she did not have enough evidence to prove her children were at risk, Roach said.

Family lawyer Andrew Feldstein said applicants who file an ex parte motion have “a very, very heavy hurdle to get over to convince a judge to grant it.”

“You need to have as good evidence as possible,” he said. “With her lack of legal skills and assistance, it’s likely she wasn’t able to put together the materials to flesh out that evidence.”

A recent job posting for a public health nurse in Toronto suggests Abdille was likely earning around $60,000 to $67,000, meaning her income was above the $32,860 legal aid threshold for victims of domestic abuse with two children.

Yusuf Abdille also controlled all of Zahra Abdille’s money in the couple’s joint account, which meant she could not pay for a lawyer, according to Berry.

“She actually left him, but there were not enough resources for her out there,” she said.

“Zahra was a strong, educated person and she was stuck in this situation that she just couldn’t get out of.”

Penny Krowitz, executive director of the Act to End Violence Against Women, said it was possible Abdille did not pursue her application because she was intimidated by the legal system and “overwhelmed with fear.”

“If you do not have representation or solid legal advice, very often you are not successful,” she said.

The tragic death of Abdille and her children would hopefully lead to “systemic changes” in the system, Krowitz said.

“This story tells us that there is a great deal more education needed for lawyers, judges and the public about what domestic violence really is and how the system works,” she said.

Dale claimed services do exist to help women like Abdille. For some reason, however, she was not identified as a victim of violence.

Staff at the courthouse might not have been screening for domestic violence, or Abdille could have masked her problems, she said.

“Women in her situation do have options, but clearly they didn’t work in her case and we don’t know exactly why that is. Clearly this is very tragic and everyone is looking at their own protocols now,” Dale said.

In a parliamentary committee for the Status of Women Thursday, NDP critic Niki Ashton filed a motion for a national action plan to address domestic violence “so that women like Zahra no longer slip through the cracks in our systems.”

The Conservative-majority committee called for the motion to be discussed “in camera,” or behind closed doors, where it was then denied.

“The federal government is failing to take leadership on preventing violence against women,” Ashton told the Star after her motion was denied. “It’s clear that we need comprehensive action and sadly the government is nowhere to be found on that front.”

SOMALI CANADIANS SEDUCED BY ISIS - Bartamaha

According to an Edmonton community leader, there’s a surge in Somali-Canadian youth joining ISIS.

Sun News Network

SOMALI CANADIANS SEDUCED BY ISIS - BartamahaEDMONTON – In an online video made by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a twenty-something former student from Calgary’s Somali-Canadian community made sure he would never leave the fight with ISIS.

“This is a message to Canada, and all of America…we are coming, and we will destroy you,” said Farah Mohamed Shirdon while burning his passport around a campfire with other compatriots doing the same.

Edmonton Somali community leader Mahamad Accord says the number of people leaving to go to Syria is growing.

“Six people that we notice, but it could be more,” said Accord.

Accord says radicalists are directly recruiting young Somali-Canadians, feeding on lack of opportunity and the hardship of fitting into a new culture.

“They can say ‘Ahha, you belong again, you’re welcome, you’re valued, your contribution’s valued,’ that’s what’s missing, and that’s what they’re offering over there. They’re saying ‘Wow, your a brotherhood, that’s why the people join the gangs…There’s so many things that we can offer them, but we have to offer them, because those guys they’re doing a better job then we’re doing.”

On how they get overseas, how jihadists contact them, the facts are sparse. What the community has came second hand. But it’s no small issue.

Alberta has 35,000 Somali-Canadians. The Canadian Somali Congress says of the 12,000 in Edmonton, 60 percent are recent immigrants or first generation under 30. That’s the target demographic for ISIS. It’s a problem large enough to get the government on board.

“From meeting with the Somali community, these are peaceful people, there are some radicals in their groups, and they want to help their youth from day one…It is a major concern,” said Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis.

Critics say going to the media accord is self-serving, creating harmful stereotypes, making life even harder for young people who aren’t getting recruited.

They also point to the fact of the 160 Canadians fighting jihad overseas, only two are confirmed as Somali.

Accord says he agrees it’s an issue for all communities, but says saving lives is what’s important.

“What I’m saying those people that think that, we can hide our head in the sand, and this thing will cure itself, I think they’re wrong…cancer is cancer, this issue is a cancer, if you hide it, you know what happens,” said Accord.

canada

Government of Canada

canada

Ted Opitz, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre, highlighted Canada’s ongoing efforts to stabilize Somalia during the Ministerial High Level Partnership Forum, which took place on November 19 and 20, 2014, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Mr. Opitz reiterated Canada’s continued support for sustainable peace and security in the country but also expressed concern about recent political tensions and stressed the need for unified political leadership.

Canada remains committed to the African Union Mission in Somalia and has provided $16 million to support the mission since 2010.

“As the Government of Somalia builds its national institutions it must also bring the government closer to the people, creating opportunities for the people to directly engage with decision makers through the strengthening of local governance,” said Mr. Opitz.

“The foundation of a strong, accountable and effective Somali government is critical. To this end, Canada has dedicated US$2.5 million toward the IMF Somalia Trust Fund for Technical Assistance from Canada’s Technical Assistance Account with the IMF for Africa and the Caribbean.”

Mr. Opitz also noted that a strong Somalia is a Somalia where women and girls can realize their full potential. This year, Canada has provided over $1 million to initiatives aimed at preventing violence and at protecting girls against child, early and forced marriage.

Since December 2010, Canada has provided over $180 million, including more than $44 million in 2014, to support humanitarian operations in Somalia and Somali refugees in neighbouring countries.

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343-203-7700
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Students Charlotte Sulek 12, Nara Wrigglesworth, 13, Stella Racca, 13, and Irina Babayan,12, are members of the gay-straight alliance of Westwood Middle School, and they meet in the school's Positive Space area together. The need for these bully-free zones has been proven by the Toronto District School Board's detailed student survey.
- See more at: http://hiiraan.com/news4/2014/Oct/66835/toronto_school_board_sets_higher_improvement_targets_for_students_based_on_race_sexual_orientation.aspx#sthash.LUCrXv1Z.dpuf
Students Charlotte Sulek 12, Nara Wrigglesworth, 13, Stella Racca, 13, and Irina Babayan,12, are members of the gay-straight alliance of Westwood Middle School, and they meet in the school's Positive Space area together. The need for these bully-free zones has been proven by the Toronto District School Board's detailed student survey. - See more at: http://hiiraan.com/news4/2014/Oct/66835/toronto_school_board_sets_higher_improvement_targets_for_students_based_on_race_sexual_orientation.aspx#sthash.LUCrXv1Z.dpuf
Students Charlotte Sulek 12, Nara Wrigglesworth, 13, Stella Racca, 13, and Irina Babayan,12, are members of the gay-straight alliance of Westwood Middle School, and they meet in the school’s Positive Space area together. The need for these bully-free zones has been proven by the Toronto District School Board’s detailed student survey.

For the first time in Ontario, a school board has set a different — and higher — target for raising the marks of students who are black, Spanish-speaking, aboriginal, Portuguese, gay or lesbian, than the target for its students overall.

The Toronto District School Board has pledged to boost the test scores and report card marks of students in these groups next year by 15 per cent compared to 10 per cent for all students, in a bid to shrink the learning gap it has found these students face and help them succeed at the rate of their classmates.

But such nuanced, colour-coded, even sexuality-based planning is possible only because of the goldmine of demographic data Canada’s largest school board dares to collect from its 200,000 students.

It showed, for example, that 32 per cent of students who identify as LGBTQ don’t graduate from high school, compared to 22 per cent of those who say they are heterosexual. And nearly half of LGBTQ students, 46 per cent, did not apply to college or university in 2012, compared to just 32 per cent of their straight classmates.

Call it the long-form census of the education world, and it, too, comes with controversy — revered by supporters, but dismissed by critics as intrusive and even stigmatizing.

“But everything we do to move students forward comes out of our census data, even at the highest level. We’re the only board in the province that sets different achievement targets for black, Portuguese, Spanish students, aboriginal and LBGTQ,” said Jim Spyropoulos, the TDSB’s executive superintendent of equity and inclusive schools. “This is a bold move.”

The board’s sweeping 40-question student survey drills deep into a student’s background and home life (identified by code number, not name, to protect privacy) and then links that information to the student’s marks and how they feel about school, to produce the mother of all flowcharts into how demographics can shape learning.

This deep level of data is the extreme example of a trend that is starting, gingerly, in schools across Canada.

Ontario now requires all boards to ask First Nations students to self-identify so educators can track what kind of support best helps them engage with school.

Nova Scotia now asks black students to self-identify for the same reason, and has begun analyzing test scores by neighbourhood income level.

Ontario’s testing body, the Education Quality and Accountability Office, has long broken down results for English language learners, boys and girls, and students with special needs.

A network of educators based at York University is running a “demographic data and student equity project” to encourage boards to collect this kind of information and offer tips on how to comply with human rights and privacy laws.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education now mentions “demographic data” in its vision statement, although it stops short of requiring boards to collect it.

The Peel District School Board is preparing a detailed demographic and attitudinal survey of its staff, though not students, next fall.

The TDSB survey probes deeply into a student’s life. There are 40 check-off boxes for cultural background, 12 choices for family make-up and 10 selections for sexual identity for students in Grade 7 and up. The survey also asks eight questions to determine how welcome students feel at school, plus questions on their home life such as “Do you take piano lessons?” and “Who helps you with homework?” The survey is then cross-referenced with students’ marks.

Yet such complex surveys are still a tough sell, even though the two boards that use them, Toronto and Ottawa, relish the findings and community groups across the province are clamouring for more boards to get over their fear and start using them.

It’s a tool some educators believe Queen’s Park should make mandatory.

“Because we know what the gap is with certain subgroups, setting the same improvement target for everyone would just keep all groups moving forward in lock-step and fail to narrow the gap,” said Spyropoulos. He points to a string of new programs this fall, sparked by the data, designed to help boost the engagement of these subgroups. The new programs include an entrepreneurial program for First Nations students and new Africentric lesson plans at the seven high schools and 10 elementary schools in Toronto with the highest percentage of black students.

Comments about being bullied from the first small batch of students to identify as LGBTQ helped prompt the board to promote more bully-free “positive spaces” and continue its support of gay-straight alliances.

“People at other boards often say to me, ‘We don’t need to spend money to find out this stuff; we already know our kids,’ ” Spyropoulos said. “But do we always know? You might assume a high school in an affluent community wouldn’t need a breakfast program, and then you ask them and find out 100 kids come to school hungry each day.

“With our census, it’s not just guesswork, it’s not about using city data, it’s not about relying on the government census — we have the information in-house.”

Moreover, in an era of accountability, Spyropoulos said it’s helpful to be able to point to the numbers when deciding whether to keep funding a program.

But not everyone has hurried to follow suit.

The York Region District School Board was poised to launch a similar survey of its 120,000 students in May — four years in the planning, with wide community support and other GTA boards watching closely — when it pulled the plug after some trustees expressed concerns about privacy and the cost.

Board chair Anna DeBartolo insisted the survey is just on hold until after the Oct. 27 election when trustees can get more details on which questions will be asked and how the board will protect students’ privacy.

“It really wasn’t on the trustees’ radar until this year and once it was, we decided we needed to have a more wholesome discussion,” said DeBartolo, adding she is “okay with asking these kinds of race-based questions; they give us a lot of information from students.”

Had York’s survey been circulated to students in May, as staff had planned, the board would be crunching numbers by now.

“There were going to be two questions on homelessness that we were really pumped about because we have no data on youth homelessness right now. Kids are often too embarrassed to admit they have nowhere to go,” said Michael Braithwaite, executive director of 360 Kids, an agency that helps homeless youth in York Region.

“Teachers can’t always tell that a kid who falls asleep at his desk may have spent the whole night walking around because something happened at home and he had to leave,” said Braithwaite. But if you ask, you might find out, he said, and get a clearer sense how to help.

“I hope the survey really is just on hold,” said Braithwaite. “We were disappointed at the delay.”

Cecil Roach is the York board’s superintendent of equity and engagement and a strong champion of collecting data.

“The things that are important are the things we measure, and you need to know who your students are. You cannot fully talk about supporting students unless you’re able to peel back the onion in order to see the inequities.

“You have some folks who say, ‘I don’t want to segregate kids by social identity,’ but that’s ridiculous,” said Roach. “We already know gay kids are more prone to suicide, but a lot of our knowledge is anecdotal. We need to know who our students are.”

York University education professor Carl James is such a believer in the value of gathering student data he has created a network of school board officials from Toronto, Peel, York Region and Ottawa to study the issue.

He would like to see Premier Kathleen Wynne call for a “learning gap strategy” like the one she requested this week to close the wage gap between men and women, and for this, surveys would be key.

“Such data would yield very rich information for the province,” said James, “and I would argue it would be of tremendous social and economic benefit.”

A spokesperson for Education Minister Liz Sandals said Friday her government is committed to have school boards “regularly use high-quality data and ongoing research to measure progress and guide programming,” especially after the scrapping of Ottawa’s long-form census, but “it is too early to tell what that will look like.”

But detailed surveys won’t be easy. A fierce split erupted this spring among Toronto’s Somali parents when the TDSB survey showed Somali students have a 25 per cent dropout rate, 10 points higher than the board average. While some Somali parents welcomed the information and joined a task force to examine solutions, others called it unfair labelling.

“These numbers can lead to uncomfortable conversations, especially about race and also sexual orientation,” admitted Spyropoulos, “but they’re conversations we need to have.”

• 75 per cent of children of professional parents say they feel they belong at school, compared to just 65 per cent of children of parents in unskilled jobs

• 79 per cent of black students say their school offers sports they like, compared to just 65 per cent of East Asian student

• 80 per cent of students live with two parents at home and one-third of families have three or more children

• 56 per cent of elementary students have at least one parent with a university degree

• 28 per cent — the largest proportion — of children from JK to Grade 6 live in families with annual incomes of less than $30,000

Source: Toronto Star

CANADIAN PARLIAMENT ATTACKED

CANADIAN PARLIAMENT ATTACKED

(Reuters) – A gunman shot and wounded a soldier in Ottawa on Wednesday and then entered the country’s parliament buildings chased by police, with at least 30 shots fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital.

A suspected gunman was shot dead inside the parliament building, a government minister said.

It was not clear whether the suspect had acted alone. Ottawa police said they were actively looking for one or more suspects.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a caucus meeting in parliament when gunfire erupted in the building, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, a former policeman, told the Toronto Sun.

Harper was later safely removed from the building, and parliament was locked down.

Fantino said parliament’s head of security, Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), had shot a suspect dead.

“All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this,” Fantino said. “He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased.”

Dramatic video footage posted by the Globe and Mail newspaper showed police with guns drawn inside the main parliament building. At least a dozen loud bangs can be heard on the clip, echoing through the hallway.

‘DANGER HERE’

As the drama enfolded, police in dark bulletproof vests and automatic weapons flooded the streets near parliament.

Some took cover behind vehicles, and shouted to people to clear the area, saying: “We do not have the suspect in custody. You are in danger here.”

Members of parliament were told to lock themselves in their offices, and stay away from the windows.

“If your door does not lock, find a way to barricade the door, if possible. Do not open a door under any circumstances,” said a security alert issued by parliament officials.

People in downtown Ottawa should stay away from windows and off roofs due to an “ongoing police incident,” the RCMP cautioned in a statement.

All cell phones in the area were blocked.

The wounded soldier was taken into an ambulance in which medical personnel could be seen giving him cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

The shooting came two days after an Islamic convert ran down two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal, before being shot and killed by police.

‘DOUBLE-BARRELED SHOTGUN’

A construction worker on the scene in Ottawa told Reuters he heard a gunshot, and then saw a man with a scarf over his face running towards parliament.

“He was wearing blue pants and a black jacket and he had a double barreled shotgun and he ran up the side of this building here and hijacked a car at gunpoint,” construction worker Scott Walsh told Reuters.

The driver got out safely, then the man drove the car to the Centre Block on Parliament Hill, where construction work is underway, Walsh said.

The suspected gunman rushed past a woman with a child in a stroller, who ran away screaming. He did not attack the woman or child, he said.

Centre Block is the main building on Parliament Hill, a sprawling complex of buildings and open space in downtown Ottawa. It contains the House of Commons and Senate chambers as well as the offices of some members of parliament, senators, and senior administration for both legislative houses.

One member of parliament, Mark Strahl, tweeted from inside parliament: “Very tense situation in Ottawa this morning. Multiple gun shots fired outside of our caucus room. I am safe and in lockdown. Unbelievable.”

Security on Parliament Hill is fairly low-key, compared with Capitol Hill in Washington. Anybody could walk right up to the front door of parliament’s Centre Block with arms and explosives without being challenged before entering the front door, where a few guards check accreditation.

The room where the caucus of the governing Conservatives meets with Prime Minister Stephen Harper is perhaps 100 feet (30 meters) from that door.

The Canadian military closed its bases across the country following the events in Ottawa, CBC TV said.

(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins,; Writing by Andrea Hopkins and Frances Kerry; Editing by Amran Abocar; and Peter Galloway)

Somali-Canadian council candidate faces racist graffiti
Somali-Canadian council candidate faces racist graffiti
A photo of Munira Abukar’s vandalized campaign signs that she shared on Twitter on Friday, Oct. 11, 2014.

Toronto — Somali-Canadian woman running for a city council seat is brushing off prejudiced messages scribbled on her campaign signs. Munira Abukar, who wears a purple headscarf in the photo on the campaign signs, tweeted images on Friday showing apparently racist messages scrawled on the signs. One has her face scribbled out and the words “Go Back Home” added.

Her social media post generated a torrent of supporters, many using the hashtag #IStandWithMunira.

Abukar says she’s proud of how Torontonians have reacted to the vandalism, adding that their support outweighs anything someone can scribble on a sign in the middle of the night.

The 22-year-old Ryerson University criminology graduate sits on the board of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation and looks up to June Callwood and Romeo Dallaire, according to her campaign website.

She is running in Ward 2 in Etobicoke, where she faces more than a dozen other candidates, including Mayor Rob Ford.

Source: CTV

THE MAN WHO TRIED TO SELL THE ROB FORD CRACK TAPE CLAIMS THERE’S

THE MAN WHO TRIED TO SELL THE ROB FORD CRACK TAPE CLAIMS THERE’S

Earlier this week, Mohamed Farah, a community organizer from Toronto’s Dixon neighbourhood in North Etobicoke, contacted VICE Canada and offered us a tell-all interview. If his name isn’t familiar to you, Farah was the man who tried to broker the sale of the Rob Ford crack video to the Toronto Star and Gawker. He later appeared on CBC’s the fifth estate and again on City News in November 2013.

Our conversation with Farah led to an explosive allegation about a second video, which features an unnamed judge smoking crack on camera. Farah claims that he and his source, who filmed both videos, were more scared to break the news of the judge video than they were the Rob Ford video, because Rob Ford was, “known to be partying.”

If Farah is to be believed, he claims the same judge also offered the owner of the Rob Ford crack video help to broker a deal for the mayor’s infamous video, in exchange for keeping the judge out of the scandal.

VICE Canada reached out to the Toronto Police about allegations they seized a video of a crack-smoking judge during the Project Traveller raids. We’ve yet to recieve comment.

On top of that, Farah claims to be the man who Rob Ford was talking about when he was videotaped intoxicated while threatening “first-degree murder” on an unknown individual—a clip the Toronto Star released last November.

We also discussed the Dixon neighbourhood at length, and Farah’s own issues with the way it has been portrayed in the media. Farah has been well known in that neighbourhood as a force of peace and positivity, being at the helm of various community organizations that have, among other things, been fighting to establish a community centre for more than a decade.

What follows is our conversation with Mohamed Farah that has been edited for length and clarity.

So why don’t we start at the beginning. What was it like trying to bring the crack tape to the media? And how did you feel the first time you watched it?
People in the community knew beforehand about some of the activities he’d been involved in. So I wasn’t really shocked that there was a video out there. However, when I saw the video for the first time, it really was shocking to me. Just seeing it with your own eyes, seeing how he was behaving, what he was saying, that kind of stuff.

[Rob Ford was] a city councillor in the area before he was mayor of the city. During his time as a city councillor, he didn’t have any initiatives or policies or anything for the community to build a recreation centre or more after-school programs… And then after he became mayor, it’s been the same kind of narrative… to fight crime, war on drugs… But he’s always been involved in these kinds of [illicit] activities as well.

rob ford

[The] kids that videotaped him, that were with him at that time, grew up under his regime. He tells people, ‘Oh, if you need a job, come to me and I’ll give you a job. I’ll give you a reference… If you need to get a house, give me a call and I’ll come help you get a house.’ Basically ‘Give me a call if there’s anything you need,’ right? But it doesn’t actually fix anything on the top level.

He depended on people on a one-on-one basis to keep calling him up… And there were people he depends on to go to for certain things. But it’s always been the status quo to keep people poor, not having any access to resources, and if you want anything, basically come to me and I’ll help you out. Why should I go to him for a job interview or to get a job when I could have a rec centre or get access to computers and all that kind of stuff I need? So that was kind of the buildup to the situation.

There was a bill that was passed in 2010 by the Conservative Government and this bill basically had the initiative to go after organized crime. However, the crime rate in Canada had been going down for a lot of years, we all know that. But somehow, I guess the police had to find a way to fill those missing links. So we saw activity, we saw a system where people were being locked away for petty crime, and they come back to the community as informants or we call them “CIs”—confidential informants. And these guys actually go over to the police to find evidence or organize other schemes…

So we just decided, if you get involved in a situation, you have a choice to be a victim of a bigger scandal or just come out and tell your story and let it blow over.

So when the Gawker article came out, when the Star article came out, what was the feeling like in your community?
[The Star] kind of outed us. They [printed] where we lived, what we looked like… So when the story broke in the community there was a witch-hunt—like, who’s behind this, who are the people who are involved in the situation?

Who was behind the witch-hunt? People in the community or people from outside the community?
Everybody had a reason to get mad. You had people in the community who… didn’t want that stigma from the media. So those people were mad. Then you had people who were loyal to [Rob Ford]—like I said, he had a dependency system where he’d get people employed in certain areas. And those people were on the frontline, Ford Nation. Some of them actually got ahold of me, and asked me questions about what was going on.

When you say “get ahold of you,” what do you mean?
Basically they knew who I was because a week before the story broke, Robyn Doolittle was hanging out in my neighbourhood. We went to a basketball game.

She probably stands out in Dixon.
She stands out. And so we’re at the game, she’s a reporter, and then a week later the story breaks and I’m with the same person. So they’re like, ‘We saw that girl with you. She’s a reporter, she was in the neighbourhood.’ I kind of denied it.

Did you go underground because of that?
I couldn’t go underground because if you did that…

Then they’d really know.
Yeah, yeah. Then you can’t tell anybody.

So when these guys were coming up to you, what were they saying?
[They were] trying to solve the issue. I guess some of them felt like if they did Rob Ford a favour, he would pay them back in favours. Some felt like, you know what, this is for my benefit, let’s just find a way to solve a problem.

So why was Robyn Doolittle at the basketball game the week before?
I invited her to the neighbourhood. I said, ‘Listen, why don’t you come by and see some of the guys and the [community outreach] program that we do. Take a look, this is what we are trying to do.’ Because I wanted her to understand the whole scope of the situation.

And let’s talk about that program a bit because an organization you work with, Inner City Union, is hosting a mayoral debate tomorrow night. You’re going to be on the panel representing Rexdale. Before we keep going into this scandal, what is your day-to-day role in the community?
The basketball program that we do is for youth in the neighbourhood. And the program actually expanded to the rest of the GTA. One of the coaches, one of the organizers went to Africa to participate in the FIBA tournament, which is a big tournament globally. They went to the finals because they represented a Somali city. They finished second place.

This Toronto team?
This Toronto team.

Amazing.
Yeah and that wasn’t put in the news, it wasn’t talked about. They made headlines in Africa and Europe… but nobody covered it here in Toronto.

I went back to the community in 2012. I’d been traveling, I’d been living in other places. So when I came back, a friend of mine approached me and said, ‘This situation’s getting hectic in the community. A lot of these kids are dying. Why don’t you come in and try to do a couple of programs with us?’ So I helped out.

We also did a partnership with the City of Toronto, the Police, TD—we did a program for little kids that were 13 to 15 years old. Unfortunately, that money disappeared. It was organized by the City of Toronto and the police were involved too. There’s people in the community who are gatekeepers. We have people in trustee positions, we have people in city parks, and they exploit the community in terms of resources…. They want to keep people in this economic condition. They want to keep people poor [in North Etobicoke, Ward 2, Rexdale].

So the articles come out, Project Traveller raids start, you were arrested. Take us through that process.
Before the raids happened, we kind of knew it was coming because we saw some of the signs. One of the signs is you get pulled over, you know you have a suspended license, but they let you go. If your tail light is broken, no one stops you. If there’s a lessened police presence in the area for a week or a couple of days, it’s the calm before the storm.

Why is that a sign?
Because they’re holding an investigation and they don’t want anybody coming in and they don’t want any interference. They want things to be cool before.

And they want to catch everyone at once.
Yeah. They want to catch everybody, all people at the same time.

[During the first raid] I got arrested early that morning, I got taken to a station and put in a cell for maybe 13 hours.

What were you charged with?
I was charged with weapon possession, I believe, proceeds to crime, and storing ammunition.

Have you ever owned a gun before?
No.

Did you see the gun that they accused you of possessing?
I saw a glimpse of it, yeah.

Were you surprised?
I was shocked, yeah. It looked like a big gun. It was something I hadn’t seen with my own eyes.

What kind of gun was it?
It looked like a 45-calibre Smith & Wesson.

And you’d seen guns in the community before obviously?
I hadn’t seen guns with my own eyes, no… I’ve never seen guns in my community.

You’ve known them to exist in your community though?
Definitely, yeah.

So how do you think a gun came into your apartment?
Most likely somebody that I knew left it there, but I’m not going to speculate.

Who was with you when you were arrested?
[My mom was] in the apartment as well. So me and her were in the apartment when they raided.

And she wasn’t cuffed, was she?
She was cuffed. She was cuffed and arrested.

Was she alright in the end?
Yeah, she was good. She’s a strong woman, she’s been through worse so she cool, she cool.

How long did it take you to get those charges dropped?
It took about a year to get them dropped. But the main thing was that when I was inside, I noticed that a lot of the people that were arrested were people I hadn’t seen before. Like I’d seen guys from the States, guys there from different parts of the city, and we’re all trying to figure out what’s going on.

If you ask, ‘OK, where are you from? How did you get involved in this?’ There was a pattern I noticed and the pattern was that they all had communication with individuals that were being [watched]. So if they called up that person, anything from that person or directed at that person, there was something to that whole raid.

By the way, there’s no such thing as a gang [called] the Dixon Bloods in my area.

You’re saying that’s an invention?
There’s no such thing as Dixon Bloods. Even the name doesn’t make any sense. When you say that you’re a gang, you rep a gang. You have gang signs, you have a territory, you have colours that you wear… That’s not in this neighbourhood… I’ve never seen a gang in our neighbourhood. I made sure my whole life that there would be no gang in my neighbourhood and we kept it that way.

There were active criminals in your community, though.
Listen man, if criminals mean a kid that is smoking weed or selling weed and gets caught doing petty crime, then perhaps. But if you’re talking about what they claim in terms of organized crime, conspiracy, with the smuggling of drugs, all that stuff, then no, it doesn’t exist in our neighbourhood.

And the guys who sold or wanted to sell the tape, made the tape, what was their affiliation?
It wasn’t ‘guys,’ it was probably one individual that I spoke to that I dealt with. It was a personal conversation between me and him, a personal thing between me and him. His friends, people that I knew, no one was happy with that, the way he went down.

I explained to him what was going on. I kind of told him, ‘Listen, if you have these kinds of interactions with these people, this is what you have to watch out for.’ And I guess, through conversations, he got scared. And he came to me and said, ‘Listen, I’ve got to talk to you about something.’ When he told me about the actual tape and [when] he told me the story behind the tape, I said, ‘Listen, you have two choices: you can either suppress it and leave the city or you can just come out and get a lawyer and try to bring this out.’ So we chose to bring it out, unfortunately it didn’t work out for him.

What was his relationship with Ford like before that, and how did he come into contact with him in order to film it? Was Ford just at the place where he did his drugs and your source happened to be around?
That’s the question I’m trying to figure out myself, like how did he get caught up with these guys? My assumption is that Ford had people that he was friends with that he used to go hang out with… But it’s so strange to me… I don’t know how all those people come together. I can’t tell you that either.

What kind of other high-profile figures were mixed up with this guy, if any?
[The] mayor, a judge…

You’re saying there’s a second video with a judge.
There’s a second video with a judge, yeah.

Is that the second video that’s been referenced by Bill Blair?
I believe that’s the second video that’s been referenced, yeah.

And how did you come to know that?
Because there were only two videos to begin with. There were two videos that were talked about: one was Rob Ford, one was the judge.

So you’ve personally seen the Rob Ford video.
That’s right.

Have you seen the judge video?
No.

Why haven’t you seen it?
I do not want to see it. I could have seen it if I wanted to. I didn’t want to see it.

Because you don’t want to know who the person is?
[My source and I] kept it on a need-to-know basis, because if I’m in a position where I’ve got to testify that I’ve seen the video, I’m not going to lie to anybody. So I said to him, ‘If I were you, I would sell the Rob Ford

… But don’t sell [the judge video], don’t get involved in that.’ He listened. But I’ve never seen it.

And you believe him entirely that the second video exists?
Yeah, I definitely do.

Because he wasn’t lying about anything else?
No, absolutely not.

And did he say anything about what was going on in that particular video?
No, he didn’t say anything about the video… He told me a story of how when he talked to the judge—it’s a female judge I believe—I guess she must have somehow found out that there was a tape of Rob Ford and a tape of them as well. I don’t know how they found out.

Before the news came out?
Before the story broke. The judge was trying to tell him, ‘Listen, don’t get me involved in this. If you want to sell the Rob Ford tape, I’ll sell it for you or help you sell the tape if you leave me out of it. And she tried to go find a buyer, but she couldn’t. The judge said, ‘Listen, I couldn’t find a buyer, but just keep your bargain. Leave me out of it.’ Something like that.

I don’t even know if the judge is [one of the people who] initiated the Project Traveler warrants. [But] I need to know because it matters to my community, it matters to the people who got caught up in the situation.

Did he seem more nervous about having the Rob Ford video or the judge video?
I think everybody was more worried about the judge video more than the Rob Ford video… nobody cares about Rob Ford. People knew about Rob Ford’s craziness before the story even broke out. No one cared about Rob Ford because he was known to be partying.

Why is it scary?
I mean because it’s a powerful person, someone who could have leverage.

So you’ve known about the judge video since May 2013?
Right.

It’s October 2014. What have you done since you found out about the judge video to try and get that information out?
To try to get it out? The only thing I ever did was, I mentioned the story once on the fifth estate and then after that, I never talked about it again.

You told the CBC and they cut it out?
For the fifth estate, yeah. They edited it out.

Why do you think that is?
I made a mistake on the title of the judge… I got them mixed up.

And the judge had previously purchased and smoked crack in that area?
I don’t know if the judge bought crack, but they had been on video smoking crack.

Why do you think this allegation hasn’t come out yet?
I think the implication is huge. [The Toronto Police] have had a rough year in terms of the Sammy [Yatim] shooting, [fallout from] the G20 protests, this would… be bad for the city.

It would. So going back to your neighbourhood, how long have you been trying to get things to a better place?
Well, I’ll give you guys some of the backstory to [all this]. 2003 was an election year. That was when I originally wanted to talk about having a rec centre for our community. I spoke to a guy at the Sun, his name is Mike Strobel, he’s a journalist. He did a piece about our [community] organization at that time. In that article, I specifically mention the need for these young people. [Those young people] are the same group of guys that are right now caught up in Project Traveler—they were like 12 or 13 at that time.

And you were saying that if these kids don’t get something productive to do, they’re going to be in trouble.
Exactly. They’re going to be in trouble.

And then after that piece was done, John Tory called me up and said, ‘I’ll help you guys get what you need. Help me, volunteer for my campaign.’ And I did, I volunteered for John Tory’s campaign in 2003 against David Miller. When the campaign was over, he lost, so I haven’t really seen him since. That same year, I kind of left that whole organization and started traveling.

In 2005, [I linked up with K’Naan]. He’s from [Dixon] as well. He did his first music video and we were friends. So I said, ‘Listen, that same issue that I had, why don’t you [meet] these kids to talk about the issues?’ So in the video, he’s talking about struggling and the exact same kids that were on the video were in Project Traveller. Like all the same characters that are on the news every day are in the same video.

So for the last 11 years you’ve been trying to call attention to the problem in Dixon?

Yeah, exactly.

What other parts of this story do you want to get out there?
The media part. The media part for me was very difficult and I’ll tell you why. As soon as the story broke, even though people knew the situation we were in, they pushed the envelope… For example, they aired out the person who shot the video. When I talked to Robyn Doolittle, she said, ‘There’s no way on Earth the Toronto Star would ever leak a source or give a source up. We’ll go to court, we’ll go on stand, we’ll do this and that.’ And they threw him under the bus, whoever that person was.

Without naming him, how would you describe the character who shot the video?
He didn’t have a criminal record before he got arrested, so that’s enough to describe him.

People can do criminal stuff but not have a criminal record.
I’m not saying he didn’t do criminal stuff, but I’m saying he must have been someone who was very careful, the way he carries himself… More business-oriented I would say. He’s a nice guy, he’s very approachable, very cool, very quiet, that kind of guy.

He wanted to change his life by the sound of it.
Yeah. He knew that he couldn’t maintain what he was doing and support a family.

So you have a bit of a bitter taste in your mouth with how Robyn Doolittle dealt with the story?
I don’t know if it was her or people pushing her, but the way the story was done, how everything came out, it’s not right. I felt like they thought they could get away with it. It’s going to blow over pretty fast, things are going to happen and he’s going to resign. It’s going to be old news. But he’s been on the media ever since, and his story keeps getting longer and longer.

The Star had to apologize for overusing the term “Somali” in their reporting.
It’s beyond racism. [They] mentioned the word ‘Somali’ and ‘crack’ about the same amount of times… Number two, we’re Canadian. I went home that same night and I watched CNN and they [said] ‘Somali Cartel’ with the [Rob Ford story]. And that’s on CNN, the most trusted news, or whatever they call themselves.

[The media] calls [Rob Ford] a racist and they say this guy’s a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, this and that. But they have these stereotypes that they push and they suppress their own information of certain realities. And they paint pictures in certain ways. I think that has to be addressed.

Are you upset with how you were characterized?
Not really. I think [Robyn] tried to make me look like a nice guy, which is good. I’m happy for that, but I’d rather be the dick, than for my community to come off as the bad people. It’s the other way around for me. Don’t make me look good, but then shit on my whole community, my friends, my family.

It makes Dixon seem like a very scary place.
It does, man, it does. And it’s far, far from it. I don’t know if you been there… You’re going to be shocked. You’re going to be like, ‘This isn’t the place I saw on the news.’ Because it’s far from it. It’s a really nice neighbourhood.

Is your community still missing a community centre?
We never had a community centre, ever. [Rob Ford is] a fiscally conservative guy so he doesn’t believe in building that kind of stuff in the neighbourhood. Apparently it’s a waste of money, or a hug-a-thug program, and all that kind of stuff.

For the 11 and 12 year-olds living in Dixon now, what kind of impression has all of this left?
That’s the question we have right now. [Since Project Traveller], people were angry mainly for two reasons: the effect it’s going to have in terms of the community’s [reputation] and what these kids see right now; and B.) The kids that are caught up in the whole justice and religious aspect of it might get radicalized now…

This is not a fair world, I don’t want to be part of a world where a judge or the mayor is smoking crack from my brother or cousin. Then they end up joining a radical group somewhere and go into that kind of stuff. That was the biggest fear in the neighbourhood.

Or kids are upset because, ‘They cuffed my mom.’
I mean, yeah, or, ‘They body-slammed my grandma,’ right? Actually, after the raid happened, they came back with a thing called Project Clean Slate. So basically they come in and broke the doors down, slammed people’s families and everything else. The next day it’s like, if you want a job being a police officer now… If you want to be a cop, here’s the application, we’re hiring.

Your kids want to hang out next Friday, let’s go to a Blue Jays game, right? Let’s do a little BBQ, let’s have a BBQ. How are you going to take me to a game when you just broke my house down? Fix my door first.

It’s nonsense, but I think there were some good cops in that situation who really knew what was going on and did a lot of work building relationships with people. One or two officers I would say made people feel that change was going to happen. But we’ll see how that goes.

Are you hopeful?
The change is already happening… There’s a young girl, Munira Abukar she’s doing it. She was actually born and raised in Ward 2. At 12, she was a tutor. She knew what was going on. At 18, she became part of the Toronto Community Housing Board. She was fighting Rob Ford as part of that board. She graduated from Ryerson, she’s going to law school, she’s running for city council—she’s the real deal. I never knew [someone like her] would come out of that situation. It’s like a flower from a concrete; you don’t see it happen, but she actually came from that. So the future of the area is very secure in terms of people stepping up and making a difference, and hopefully it continues.

Are there any other things that you feel we haven’t touched on?
The video where [Rob Ford] goes crazy. When the story broke, [Rob Ford] sent out people to go find the guys, so I guess someone must have given him my number to call. But he didn’t call my number, [one of his associates] tried to call me… when someone got ahold of me, it was to have a meeting with Ford, [one of his associates, and some] other people. I turned it down. I’m not going to meet on their turf.

[I said,] if they want to talk… let’s do it in a place that I’m comfortable with. They didn’t want to do that.

Can you say who the middleman is?
I can’t say who the middleman is. But that person came back to me a few weeks later and he’s like, ‘Yo, this dude [Rob Ford] is pissed. He wants to fight you.’ And I’m like, ‘He wants to what?’ He wants to fight me. Like why would he want to fight me? If he’s got issues that he wants to address, we can sit down like grown men and address the issues and try to resolve it. I’m not trying to get into a fistfight and get arrested again for hitting the mayor.’

So you think he’s talking to you in the video?
I’m pretty sure he’s talking about me in the video. He’s pretty pissed off.

What did you think when you saw that?
When I saw it—I came out of jail, bro—I had to laugh, man. But on the other hand… I took [it] very seriously—that’s a reason why I wanted to come out on the fifth estate… I had to go out there and show my face. I could have done it behind a veil, but I wanted to just let [the Fords] know if I talk about you in private, I’ll talk about you in public as well.

If you did meet with Rob Ford, what do you think the meeting would have been about?
I honestly don’t know. I think he’d probably try to buy me out maybe. Maybe try to intimidate me, I don’t really know. I can’t really call it. But it was kind of to suppress the video and he did a good job at suppressing it. I mean it really got suppressed afterwards.

Well no one’s seen the crack video.
No one’s seen it, exactly, yeah.

Does it still exist within your community?
There’s a million stories out there, so I really can’t call it.

Source: Vice News

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