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Racism & Mental Health - Why Andrew Loku's Shooting Matters to Health Promoters

Guest post by Anjum Sultana - MPH Student at UofT's Dalla Lana School of Public Health 


What does it say about Toronto when politicians care more about‪ #‎DeadRaccoonTO than a police shooting?
On July 5th 2015, Andrew Loku, a father of five and an immigrant from South Sudan, was undergoing a mental health crisis when within 2 minutes of police interaction, he was fatally shot by the Toronto Police Service at his apartment building. The same apartment building that has units subsidized by the Canadian Mental Health Association for folks suffering from mental illness.

This is not just some one-off accident or unfortunate incident. Since 1988, over 50% of the deaths by Toronto Police Service of those experiencing a mental health crisis have been Black males. Over the past 26 years, 73% of those in mental distress killed by Toronto Police Service have been non-white. The statistics are staggering yet nothing is being done, the lack of public outrage is deafening.

It's time people wake up and take notice and understand that racism is an issue here in Canada as well. It is in all of our best interests to actively push our public servants to take a race-based lens when creating policy and when people have been vociferously advocating for recommendations, like the African Canadian Legal Clinic, you support them wholeheartedly and take active steps to amplify the voices of others.

Too often we stay in our 'issue bubbles' and fail to see how things are connected and the least we can do to demonstrate our solidarity is to show up - come to the vigil, donate to the fundraiser, discuss these issues with your friends and family, put it on your social media, actually engage in these issues. By not doing so, your silence speaks volumes and tells others, your fellow friends and colleagues that their struggle and fight to survive and be seen in this world, doesn't matter. Don't do that - do something. Show up.

If you have the capacity to, please support Andrew's family and help pay for his funeral. Canadian Mental Health Association and Across Boundaries has set up a funding campaign, so please support!


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