Who are we?
We are young people who want to see a change.
Our team believes that our peer group (18-35 year olds) are constantly surrounded by images and ideas of conflict. Because conflict comes in so many forms – from gang violence to bullying – we created a project that inspires dialogue about what forgiveness means and looks like. We are heartbroken by growing violence rates in the GTA, as many of our team members have lost friends and family to gun violence. As a way of healing, we started a small discussion group about turning trauma into a positive project. The small discussion group grew from a few believers into a consistent event averaging 80 attendees.
We are a group of young people who see the concept of forgiveness as a tangible and attainable way of seeing results, with the ultimate goal of seeing violence rates lowered. To date, we have held 19 events attracting more than 2,200 attendees, the majority of whom have been youth. Based on data we collect at every event, we have a return rate of 82%.
Most recently, we created a discussion and dialogue on the word “retaliation”, as well as alternatives to the theory of “eye for an eye”. We had three ex-gang members speak about why they participated in gun violence, what the lure of a gang was and ultimately what rock bottom looked like. They spoke about how forgiveness was the deciding factor between fighting back upon conflict or walking away – all three said the decision to forgive has kept them alive.
In the crowd, the participants ranged from front-line workers to teachers, in addition the regular youth demographic that we attract. This was the first time they had been directly exposed to real, tangible reasons that gun violence exists as opposed to hearing statistics and case studies.
From there, a discussion was created to start implementing logical, preventable anti-violence tactics in use. It would be the first time these particular ex-gang members were asked their opinion on their own experience and what would prevent violence. The result of the conversation was that the majority of the youth in their community were not being fed proper meals, prompting aggression, and a group of attendees is now creating a breakfast program in two elementary schools.
Sex Ed [sexual assault, sexual infections, sexual identity, sexual addiction]
Alternatives To Retaliation [gang violence, gun violence]
Heartbreak [emotional abuse, betrayal, pain and hope]
Addiction [substance, codependency]
- The first Project was in Dec 2010 at The Remix Project with 49 attendees
- The Project currently averages 98 young people per Project
- We have a waitlist of young people who wish to tell their stories
- Running a mass workshop at Manifesto at the AGO in 2011 for 200 attendees
- We’ve worked out of downtown Toronto, Rexdale, Scarborough, Orangeville, Trenton, many more.
Partners include Gravity Affect, IMMNF, The Remix Project, Manifesto, JustBGraphic and GYC.