Mahamad Accord has tried to separate his advocacy work from the violence devastating his community.
But as the deaths of young Somali men continue to make headlines, he’s leading a community’s charge to find out why the killings keep happening and why so many have gone unsolved.
“When you deal with everyday death of young men who have potential … and you see the mothers and the fathers and the siblings dealing with it, it’s traumatizing,” Accord said following a town hall in north Edmonton this past weekend.
“I stopped communicating with the families because it traumatized me. Because you cannot do anything about it. You cannot even contact the investigating officer and get an answer.”
Accord’s advocacy organization, the Taccalusa Institute, led Saturday’s town hall where community members shared frustrations and brainstormed solutions.
Much of the frustration was aimed at police, with some accusing the Edmonton Police Service of neglecting the homicide investigations.
Accord says 70 murders of Somali Albertans since 2005 remain unsolved.
“Right now they just bury their dead and that’s it. There’s no hope (of the killings) being solved,” he said.
“The people think that there is no value in their life, and they accept that. That’s the sad part, that we accept it – that the young men of Somali descent have no value when they become victims of homicide.”
Community members acknowledged an array of connected issues contributing to the deaths, from a lack of resources to cope with trauma, youth getting caught up in violence through the drug trade, and lack of action from the provincial justice ministry.