Somalian community seeks allies in bid to keep children safe from violence, death.


Halkaan ka akhri

Ahlaam Farah, centre, listens with friends Ama (no last name given), left, and Beydan Farah, right, during a town-hall meeting involving the Somalia community and Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason at the AUUC Hall, 11018-97 St., yesterday. (AMBER BRACKEN/Sun Media)

Members of Edmonton’s Somalian community are relieved to have had a few months’ reprieve from the bloodshed that killed several members of the tight-knit community last fall.

But many also remain fearful the peace won’t last.

“Right now, people don’t know,” said Mahamad Accord, executive director of the Alberta Somali Canadian Centre.

“They don’t know if it’s a pause or if it’s better.”

About 50 people from the community gathered yesterday for a town-hall meeting held by Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason.

While they have forged relationships with Edmonton police in recent months, Accord said members of the Somalian community want to work with politicians and the public and Catholic education systems next.

But a group of young women at the meeting said not everyone is satisfied with the police service’s promise to work more closely with the community.

They say they’re frustrated that no one has been held accountable for the deaths of the young Somalian men killed last year.

“Mothers have more fear than us,” said a 19-year-old woman who asked not to be named.

“They’re, like, ‘My son is going out tonight and I don’t know if he’ll come back or if police are even going to do anything because they haven’t acted like they cared about the other murders,’ ” she said.

“To be honest, if there were this kind of magnitude of murders happening with Caucasian males, there would be so much more done about it.”

Accord said many Somalian youth in Edmonton were born here or immigrated at a very young age. He said their parents often have to work multiple jobs to get by and don’t have time to help them with homework or keep a close eye on them.

That’s when trouble happens.

All of the recently murdered Somalian men were high school dropouts, Accord pointed out.

“The school systems haven’t made changes to reflect the demographic change in the schools,” he said. “The curriculum needs to include culture and diversity.”

While many of the issues brought up by the community at the meeting fell outside provincial jurisdiction, Mason said it’s time politicians step up and take on some of these problems.

“The objective is simply to hear from the Somali community,” Mason said.

“They have a number of challenges they’ve been facing … We’ve just reached out to them since they seem like they need somebody in their corner.”

Since last September, four Somalian men under the age of 25 have been shot and killed in the city. There are about 2,000 Somalian families in Edmonton.

Sourse Sun News Edmonton

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