Farrah Merali, CBC, January 16, 2022
Predominantly Black neighbourhoods in Toronto are disproportionately impacted by homicides but have the least amount of support services for survivors, according to new research from the University of Toronto.
The report comes from U of T’s Centre for Research & Innovation for Black Survivors of Homicide Victims (The CRIB). The Homicide Tracker — believed to be the first of its kind — looks at killings from 2004 to 2020 by neighbourhood as well as support services available to families and friends who are affected.
The research comes on the heels of a violent start to 2022 in Toronto — six homicides in just over two weeks. Those behind the research hope the data will affirm what many community advocates have been saying for years: that there simply aren’t enough supports for survivors of homicide in neighbourhoods where they’re needed most, and more needs to be done to address the systemic roots of violence, including anti-Black racism.
The data, which took more than a year and a half to compile, found 75 per cent of Canadian homicide victims are racialized Ontarians, and 44 per cent identified as African, Caribbean or Black.
Sharpe said the tracker was launched because of an absence of race-based data on homicides as well as the impact those deaths have on family and community members.
“If you don’t count the number of homicide victims and then consider the ripple effect and the disproportionate impact of homicide on Black communities, then we’re all almost revictimizing them,” said Sharpe.
The data suggests each homicide victim leaves behind between seven and 10 family members or close friends who are struggling. The researchers estimate that with the city’s homicide rate over the past years, 3,850 people living in Toronto are affected and are struggling.
“So you begin to understand the chronic accumulation of Black death and understand the reality that Black survivors of homicide victims in Toronto are experiencing a pandemic of grief.”
Accompanying the data is a report on the social determinants of homicide that looks at factors such as employment, income and education. Its findings show how anti-Black racism factors into structural inequities. For example, Black Torontonians are four times more likely to be charged with a crime, and one in five young Black men in Ontario have been incarcerated, compared to 1 in 70 white men.