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On Sunday July 22, 2018, a lone gunman walked along Toronto's busy Danforth Avenue in the Greektown area of the city, randomly shooting pedestrians before opening fire on crowded restaurants. Witnesses described several blasts similar to fireworks, while others reported hearing gunshots and seeing a man holding a gun - nevertheless no one could image that a mass shooting was occurring along the historic Danforth.
When tragedy strikes, we must work together with our community and first responders to collectively overcome the sorrow and make amazing things happen
In the aftermath of the incident the Circle K Central Canada Loss Prevention Team was moved to do something to help the healing process and show support for the community, while also recognizing the efforts of all the first responders who worked in unison to courageously save lives and protect people that night.
It's always the simple things that bring people together and the Circle K StreetART program does just that. This out of the box initiative brings the community together for a common cause to make the community and our stores a safer place by reducing violence and breaking down barriers. The Loss Prevention Team approached the Toronto Police Service, Toronto Crime Stoppers and the local BIA to propose the StreetART tribute idea; which was overwhelmingly accepted and created a positive energy amongst the group. With all the stakeholders on board, the team commissioned the creative artistry of their Graffiti Artist MagicFinnga Wong.
On Wednesday August 8th, 2018 the Danforth mural started by having local youth and uniformed Toronto Police Officers working together to paint the initial backdrop of the wall. As designed, barriers came down and conversations began to occur between the youth, community and police - the program was working. A few days later, on Friday August 10, 2018 the Danforth mural was complete and officially revealed with a community street party at the store, which brought together the police, youth and the Danforth community as a whole.
The Danforth mural was the twenty-third StreetART Mural for Circle K's program, however, this mural had even more of a special meaning. This mural was dedicated to the Danforth Community to create unity & peace as a result of the tragic events that took place weeks earlier and the impact was best described by Toronto Police Officer Scott Mills when he tweeted "heart warming to attend unveiling of community graffiti mural art project honouring a strong/vibrant Danforth community".
The #TorontoStrong #DanforthMural is a tribute to all the victims, all the first responders and to the entire City of Toronto with the message of "Unity".
The mural dawned the Toronto skyline as the background with the silhouettes of first responders from Toronto Police, Toronto Fire and Toronto EMS along with their service vehicles. The Danforth community vigil was also represented with community members holding candles surrounded by flowers and fireworks with the #TorontoStrong along the top. To remember the victims and encourage community unity, a large white dove was displayed on the wall with a message of "Community Safety Is A Shared Responsibility".
History of the StreetART Program: The initiative was developed in 2012 to combat crime issues at stores and works to create strategic partnerships in an effort to help prevent crime and strengthen community relationships; while working diligently towards a community-based shared responsibility. Engaging the community, especially the youth will only empower them to develop a stronger ability to make a positive difference.
Anyone can paint a wall, but If you don't involve the community in the process of the mural and the police officers who live & work in their community then the whole intention of the program is pointless.
This forward thinking concept has seen positive results, not only in the reduction of crime at the locations where the murals have been painted - but also in the beautification the mural has within the community. As a result of this initiative, graffiti crime and overall crime at these locations have been virtually eliminated.
This unique initiative caught the attention of Katy DeCelles, a Professor from Harvard University and University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies. In 2015, Circle K Central Canada received an educational study grant from Harvard University to implement additional StreetART Murals. In November 2017, Harvard Business School released two Harvard Business Reviews on what Circle K Central Canada are doing in the prevention of crime.