Sometimes the violence and killing seem never ending. It seems more and more disheartening.
Looking south of the border, mass shootings are so common that they’re only mentioned in the news if they are in the double digits. Now that 49 were gunned down in Orlando, Florida, it will take an even larger number to make headlines.
In the States, there are also over 1,000 shooting deaths per years from police shootings, many for situations which start from traffic stops for minor violations and other small confrontation. Black citizens are twice as likely to be killed by police as whites. To put it in perspective, in B.C., there have 2 firearms deaths involving police since 2013.
Yesterday, with the killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas at another otherwise peaceful protest, another line was crossed. Protests, including the police assigned to oversee them, are now targets for gun violence.
It is hard to know where things will end. There are so many guns in the States, and for many people the solution is more guns.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Violence never brings permanent peace.”
In many ways, Kamloops, and all of Canada, are a long ways from the escalating violence south of us. But even here, if we don’t make peace, there will be violence.
The Independent Investigations Office of BC investigates police involved injuries and deaths in our province. They have the power to recommend charges against police officers. Whether or not the Crown proceeds with prosecuting the charges, the investigation brings to light what happened.
The police are more accountable for their actions, and by increasing public’s confidence that the police actions were justified. The IIOBC makes peace.
The racial divide is blamed for many of the police involved deaths in the States. Canada has its own race issues. The ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women is compounded by accusations of police inaction in investigating.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work, while laying bare a terrible history of abuse, also creates possibilities for improved relations between First Nations and non-First Nations. Confronting racism creates peace.
Protests create peace. People who have a chance to voice their opinions and be heard feel empowered. It sometimes seems that someone is always protesting: about pipelines. Site-C or a mine. About childcare, education and healthcare. About a dump in their backyard.
Protesters aren’t who we need to worry about. The people we need to worry about are the people who feel they have no voice, who have bought into violence.
People who work with disconnected youth create peace. Huge kudos go to the police for their continual work of weakening the drug trade, and associated gun trafficking in Kamloops.
Another step is needed, which is to connect young men with other opportunities, before they perpetuate violence through the drug trade. Groups that work with youth, such as the Youth Homelessness Action Plan help to create peace.
Vigils and remembrance brings peace. Every December 6, there is a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The day commemorates the massacre of 14 women at École Polytechnique. That Canada has a remembrance for a massacre that happened 27 years ago is in a way hopeful. We have so few mass shootings that even after 27 years, we remember.
Watching the violence unfold in the States is very disheartening. It sometimes seems like a bad action film from the 1990’s where everyone has a gun and the body count grows by the minute.
Whether Canadians can do anything to help the situation in the States is unclear.
But we can create peace here. Peace is something you have to work for continually, and we are doing many things that make a difference.
— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.
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