Toronto Raptors Launch Petition to Observe National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Canada

·2 min read
Image via Getty/Mark Blinch
Image via Getty/Mark Blinch

The U.S. is still reeling from a spate of devastating mass shootings—in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa—that feel tragically too commonplace in the daily lives of Americans. But it’s important to remember that Canada is also dealing with its own gun violence crisis. With that in mind, the Toronto Raptors have launched a petition calling on Canadian legislators to join the U.S. in observing National Gun Violence Awareness Day, which falls on the first Friday of every June, north of the border.

“The tragic mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and now in Tulsa, have reminded us of the stark reality of gun violence in the United States—and has sparked a national conversation that gun violence does not stop at the border,” said John Wiggins, the Raptors’ vice president of organizational culture and inclusion, in a statement. “In order to solve a problem, you have to acknowledge the problem exists. Well, the families and communities in Toronto and across Canada who have been impacted by gun violence can tell you it is here, and it is real. Our goal is for this petition to be presented in the House of Commons and for a motion to annually mark this day to honour the survivors and victims who have been affected.”

According to new data by Statistics Canada, firearm-related homicides have gone up 37 percent in Canada since 2009—but the report warns there are large data gaps in information collection. The report also found that in 2020, handguns were used in 75 percent of violent robberies, as well as 60 percent of homicides and other incidents causing death and attempted murder. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pitched some new legislation that would ‘freeze’ the sale, transfer, and import of all handguns across the country, and crack down harder on those who deal in the illegal firearms market.

To raise awareness for the new petition, the Raptors released a video with several members of the organization—including Scottie Barnes and Justin Champagnie—urging the public to sign.

National Gun Violence Awareness Day has been held annually in U.S. cities since 2015. The day was initially held to honour 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed in a Chicago park, just a week after she had performed at President Obama’s second presidential inauguration. The day has since expanded and is meant to remember all survivors and victims of gun violence in the country. At least 18 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. so far this year.

The Raptors’ petition to support National Gun Violence Awareness Day can be signed here.

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