Toronto, ON – November 9, 2009 – Members of Ugnayan ng Kabataan ng Pilipino sa Canada/Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance–Ontario (UKPC/FCYA-ON) are mourning the loss of Christian Derro, a young member of our community who was recently lost to gun violence. Christian, who was only 19 years of age, sadly passed away on Thanksgiving weekend at a shooting incident in the Jameson area of Parkdale. We recognize that although Christian’s early death may have been avoidable, such stories of violence and death as experienced by Filipino-Canadian youth are not new happenings within the community. Circumstances such as these remind us of Jeffrey Reodica, Mao Jomar Lanot and Charle Dalde, to name a few. We remember their names not as part of news reports and headlines gone by, but as Filipino-Canadian youth whose lives speak of the experiences of many others within the community.
We are with the Derro family in mourning for the loss of Christian. Our community has been experiencing different forms of youth violence, and we do not wish for this trend to continue. Violence, whether from lethal weapons or from systemic barriers, hinders the capacities and lives of our youth. We are also with the Derro family in seeking justice and truth for Christian’s death. Since the shooting was reported in the news about a month ago, little information has been heard about the incident since. Though his body has been laid to rest, questions on the circumstances behind Christian’s death still linger. As Filipino-Canadian youth, we offer our condolences towards all those whose lives have been touched by Christian.
Furthermore, we believe that the entire Filipino community, not just our youth, are facing similar forms of violence that affect our full participation and settlement and integration within Canadian society. Our community represents the third largest visible minority in Canada, with over 250,000 of us residing in Toronto. As well, a majority of our community is composed of women and youth. As media coverage often criminalizes our youth whenever an incident of violence occurs, it is important to understand the root causes and systemic barriers behind the experiences of our community. We can honour the lives of fallen youth like Christian Derro by addressing the most immediate and pressing issues of the Filipino community as a whole. Their lives are a testament to the ability of our youth to come together and recognize that more deaths are not necessary before we make the necessary steps towards change.