The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that the organization has started a petition to call on Canadian legislators to join the United States in observing the first Friday of June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Canada. The petition was published on Change.org (chng.it/FL8yMw5j). 

“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, organizational culture and inclusion. “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 Statistics Canada, firearm-related homicides have gone up 37 percent over the past 11 years – though there are large data gaps in information collection. The report also found that in 2020, handguns were involved in about 75 percent of violent robberies, along with 60 percent of homicides and other violations causing death and attempted murder. The full report can be found at statcan.gc.ca.

Since 2015, American cities have observed the first Friday of June as National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The day was founded to honour 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago, Illinois a week after she had performed at President Obama's second presidential inauguration. The movement has since expanded significantly and now honours all survivors and victims of gun violence in the country.