The families of victims injured or killed in shootings by Peel police met with the mayors of Mississauga and Brampton in Malton on Wednesday to demand justice and seek police reform.
The meeting was held at Malton Community Centre and was facilitated by the group Malton People's Movement.
It comes as the province's police watchdog continues to investigate the shootings that killed Jamal Francique, D'Andre Campbell, and Ejaz Choudry and seriously injured Chantelle Krupka.
Before the meeting, Francique's father, Derek, said the family wants to know where the Special Investigations Unit is in its probe into his son's death. Francique, who his father describes as respectful, helpful, and a devoted father, was shot and killed by police in January while he was in his car.
The SIU said police were in that area to arrest Francique when the shooting happened.
"We're here to speak to both mayors on what situations can be changed and what needs to be changed," Derek said before the meeting.
"We're calling out on the mayor of Brampton and the mayor of Mississauga to stand up and give us answers to why these aggressions have been happening and why they haven't taken a different approach and why they haven't held the (police) chief accountable to do something about this."
Derek said he wants the officers who took part in killing his son to be held accountable.
"Something has to come out of today," he said. "It's a must for Jamal to get justice."
The Francique family gathered at a barbecue last week in Brampton with Campbell's family to celebrate their lives and demand justice.
Campbell was shot and killed by Peel police on April 6. Police responded to their Brampton house just after 5:30 p.m. after receiving a call about a domestic disturbance – a call D'Andre's family said he placed himself.
According to the SIU, two officers stunned D'Andre with conducted energy weapons before one of the officers fired multiple shots at him. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Following the meeting, Knia Singh, the lawyer for the Francique family, said it is a positive step forward that both mayors and Conservative MPP Deepak Anand were at the meeting. However, he said there are still a lot of important questions from families that remained unanswered.
"They're asking for the identity of the officers that committed these acts. If the officers are justified in their duties, and they are public servants, they should have their names released," Singh said.
"When are those elected representatives going to step up in the face of tragedy? When are they going to step up and acknowledge this is a problem that is systemic and is continued for far too long?"
When asked to describe how the meeting went, Singh said it was emotional, blunt, forthright, but progressive. However, he said it is important to see how the politicians will respond following the meeting.
"There are many things that the system can do, the provincial system, and the municipal system can do to help these families, but for far too long, it's fallen on deaf ears," he said.
"And it takes a meeting like this to actually make those demands. It's good that the demands are being made. But will the demands be met?"
He said every time political leaders take longer to respond to their demands; the more lives will be lost in the future.
On behalf of the families, Singh called on Premier Doug Ford to do more and make changes in the Police Services Act and the SIU.
"Doug Ford, you say you're for the people. Well, these are the people. These are the people who are affected by what's happening in the streets."
"We trust the police, but the police are failing people, and in Peel, it's shown by the people standing here that they've been failed."
Crombie said the meeting is part of a broader consultation to listen to the families and the community's concerns.
"This is their opportunity to speak with us. I know the city has put forward a number of initiatives with respect to anti-Black racism to marginalized communities," Crombie said before the meeting began.
"It's very important to reach out and help them heal, and I want to do whatever I can to move forward."
Crombie said the city has taken a number of steps to address some of the concerns, including the approval of body-worn camera, but said, "there's a lot of work to do to go forward."
"I want to listen to them and hear from them what other concrete steps can be taken," the Mississauga mayor said.
Crombie noted that there are only two mental health care crisis units in the Peel region that responds to over 15,000 mental health checks and 22,000 suicide calls.
"We need more funding to go into health care to mental health reforms. We need more mobile crisis units," Crombie said. "We need SIU reform as well."
She confirmed that Peel Regional Police was not asked to participate in the meeting by the families.
In a news release, MPM said Crombie reached out to the organization to meet following its "Where's Bonnie?" campaign across the city.
The group said it wants to give a platform to families mourning loved ones and recovering injuries they sustained from the police.
MPM was formed in the wake of Choudry's shooting in Malton before Father's Day.
The 62-year-old man was having a mental health crisis when his family called the non-emergency line.
Paramedics called police after they allegedly saw Choudry holding a knife. The SIU had previously said that he had barricaded himself inside the unit when officers arrived on the scene.
Relatives of Choudry had previously said that they asked police to let them talk to him to de-escalate the situation because Choudry was afraid of the police and did not understand English well. However, police allegedly denied their request.
According to the SIU, officers initially were able to communicate with Choudry, but when that communication stopped, they breached the door and entered the unit.
An interaction occurred, which led police to deploy a conducted energy weapon at Choudry. The SIU said that when that had "no effect," an officer then discharged a firearm, striking the father of four multiple times. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Following his death, a week-long protest was held at the intersection of Morning Star and Goreway drives to demand justice for his death.
"We're here to listen. I come from this with a standpoint that we do a poor job in Canada and Ontario responding to mental health challenges and the fact that right now, we have the
resources to respond roughly around ten per cent of the time with a mental health support team, to the calls that come in, for me is a travesty," Brown said.
"And I want to make sure we have that mental health support for every mental health call that comes in. And we're going to need everyone to come to the table to make sure that we have these tragedies result in in in reform for how we respond as a community."
Brown said he hopes that these incidents will lead to action and push reforms that are necessary to keep the community safe.
There were some tense moments after the meeting as community members tried to block the politicians from leaving the venue.
They chanted "no justice, no peace," "no racist police," as they stood in front of Crombie and Anand's vehicles.
Chantelle Krupka, who was shot in the abdomen by police on Mother's Day and participated at the meeting, said the community wants to show the politicians that they are outraged.
She also said some were frustrated that the politicians insisted on leaving after an hour of talks.
However, Krupka said she considers the meeting successful.
"The voice of the community is heard. We did a great job standing up as a united front," she said.
Krupka said the mayors finally condemn the actions of the police during the meeting. She noted that they've been pretty quiet in the past and picked and chose what stories they want to comment on.
Krupka said she now wants to see how the mayors will respond to their demands following the meeting.
"The little advancements that we made today, it's encouraging," she said.
"It just strengthens me to keep fighting."