The Loyan Foundation was founded in response to the high rates of gun violence in Toronto – and in memory to Loyan Ahmed Gilao and his friend Ali Mohamed who were victims of a senseless and unprovoked shooting at the Phoenix theatre in downtown Toronto in 2005.
Since then, The Loyan Foundation has served the GTA with a focus on the West End East African community, specifically the thousands of newcomers who face multiple barriers that inhibit their success in Canada. Often, new Canadians think that they will have a better life in Canada, yet they often then face economic hardships leading to poorer mental health, violence, domestic and child abuse. Even worse, in Toronto one-third of the homeless are immigrants, while sixty percent are conserved low income.
The Canadian African community continues to experience:
- Increased gang-related community violence, including elevated homicide rate amongst young men of East African background in the last 3 years.
- Increased rates of overall community violence
- Increased levels of domestic violence, especially spousal abuse and child abuse.
- Over representation of East African youth in the criminal justice system
- Increased incidents of mental health problems
- Limited anti-violence programming focus on building community capacity, utilizing East African culture or deep identity transformation of youth.