I wanted to take a few days before talking about the terrorist attack that happened in Toronto, Monday April 23rd. I always consider Toronto my second home. I was born in Guelph, just outside of Toronto, and have consistently visited Toronto to share time with friends and family. Many Canadians are constantly back and forth between Vancouver and Toronto because of work, family, friends, and other reasons. We could say they are sister cities in a sense. When the attacks happened I was DJing in Mexico for a wedding, the attendants being from both Toronto and Vancouver. Frantic phone calls from Mexico to Toronto took place on Monday, making sure friends and family were okay. Myself, Ryan and Anjali will all be in Toronto in just a few weeks to perform at desiFest and celebrate Toronto’s rich South Asian music scene. The actual idea of starting GPS was born in Toronto in a conversation with desiFest co-founder SatsB. My first production as GPS was a remix of a Toronto Anthem, IVIVI by Lilly Singh and Humble the Poet, the lyrics of which celebrate Toronto’s diversity. Because of this deep attachment I feel to Toronto I wanted to just mention a few things about the attacks, as they feel like they happened in my own city of Vancouver. And so I would have said the same things. The attacks were not an isolated incident, and relate to recent news stories across Canada. I will explain this as well.
IVIVI Part II (#GPSMusic Remix) – Lilly Singh & Humble the Poet
First off let’s call it what it is. A terrorist attack targeted specifically at women. You can get into the legal aspect of what you want to call it in court, but in the media that is how it should be called. There’s more blogs that go into more detail about this, so I will just leave it there.
Second, though I am often critical of police officers on my facebook, I also want to give respect where respect is due. Huge props to Const. Ken Lam, who is being hailed as the ‘Cop who didn’t Shoot’. All I want to say here, is that I look forward to a time when ‘the cop who didn’t shoot’ isn’t a headline because its standard practice.
Last, I want to talk about the issue that is dear to my heart, and that I often discuss in our music and our social media, and that is patriarchy. You can call it rape culture, toxic masculinity, among other names, but these interactions of how men treat women all rise from the same seed. For those that didn’t stay up on the story, this was not a simple ‘man gone crazy’ type of attack. This was a targeted attack, and targeted specifically at women. It was not an accident that 8 women and 2 men were killed by this man.
Last year we released a song titled Gone in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The story is about the night that my mom left my abusive dad. These attacks in Toronto, domestic violence, the #MeToo stories, are not separate stories, but are all tied to this seed of patriarchy.
As the United Nations put it, violence against women is “a plague” that still infects both developed and developing countries. The Toronto terrorist attack was clearly another case of this plague. I wanted to share 2 horrifying stats that exist in Canada, that were given to me by Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services:
1 in 3 women will experience violence in her lifetime
Every 5 days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Press for Progress. As men, we can step up, be better allies, question our own beliefs and behaviours around gender and sexuality, and Press for Progress in eliminating violence against women. Details have found that the Toronto attacker was a part of many online communities of men who instead of being allies to women, attack women and believe men are being treated unjustly in society. These groups sicken me. And so I appeal to men to side with women and call out men who have these archaic beliefs and encourage them to get help and counselling. If only one man could have encouraged this, in these online forums or in person, we may have saved the lives of 10 people on April 23rd.
I point to counselling because believe many of these men are dealing with the effects of trauma whether conscious or unconscious. For more information on this I would point to the book, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.
In Vancouver, the story of the death of Maple Batalia, has come out in more detail thanks to a recent documentary called Remembering Maple. Again this story is tied into this seed of patriarchy. Because the details appear different in these stories between Toronto and Vancouver, they will not be tied together. But they should be. Thankfully in these two cases the men are being brought to justice. But the seeds of patriarchy are so deep that men who kill women are still being able to walk free. In February this year, the man who killed Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old First Nations girl, was allowed to walk free. The details of this story show how far we have to go in protecting our women. Many Indigenous leaders have criticized the safety nets that were supposed to keep her safe.
I am working on a new song titled Home, that talks about the story of Maple Batalia, and the over arching issues of our toxic patriarchal system. If you would like to receive it when it releases please remember to join our email list, on this page.
Hate will never be the answer, it will always be love.
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