Regent Park organization works to build community spirit, help gun violence victims

Mothers of Peace was born out of tragedies, but spreading light and love is also part of its focus. Nick Westoll has more on how the Regent Park community organization is helping to strengthen the neighbourhood.

When it comes to community advocates, Sureya Ibrahim is well-known. In fact, she has been dubbed by some as the mayor of Regent Park

She works with Mothers for Peace, a tight-knit organization that is working every day to build up the community spirit in the neighbourhood.

“I moved in and I loved it. And I got like a lot of community members that I felt sense of the community,” said Ibrahim. “We had a shortcoming as well and like other neighborhoods, but it’s beautiful place to live.”

Ibrahim moved here 26 years ago from Ethiopia. But as is unfortunately the case in various Toronto neighbourhoods, there’s been stigma following isolated incidents of violence.

“You have been seeing throughout the city, that gun violence east, west, and north, it’s not only Regent Park issue anymore.”

Mothers for Peace was created to fill a need, to support mothers and other family members of people killed by gun violence. Ibrahim saw it first-hand as a trauma support volunteer.

“When they are a child and they went to school with my kids, and all of that and it just started impacting me and it doesn’t go away,” said Ibrahim. “When there is a gun violence in west end, it does impact the moms who already lost their kids, and it triggers the trauma again.”

So, in 2015, the group formed. They provide emotional support for each other with the help of therapist. They’ve moved forward in other ways, taking trips to Niagara Falls and other places in nature to help foster healing.

The group continues to advocate for ways to break the cycle of violence through rallies like the one coming up on September 23.

But while this group was born out of tragedies, they’ve evolved to build each other up across the community including events like fashion shows and cultural bazaars.

“We bring the community together and showcase the talent and the skill that they have and create opportunities for those young people to volunteer or get an honorarium paid as well,” said Ibrahim.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim said more needs to be done by decision-makers to help all residents succeed

“I want to see more jobs for young people. And I think for everybody, actually, to be honest,” she said. “If we don’t support the young people, they will end up getting in trouble and it’s going to come back to us as well. So, it’s success if they are successful.”

With the community having been revitalized over the last decade, Ibrahim hopes that continues. “We are building the community. And I guess there is a challenge. There is a success in every community as well … Regent Park has been done amazing stuff to build.”

If you’re in the Regent Park area and want to learn more about the community events, Mothers for Peace is on all major social media channels.

With files from Meredith Bond

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