Days after Hamzeh Serhan was gunned down in the courtyard of a Caldwell Avenue social housing complex, about a dozen women in the community did something that had not been done before.
They turned poster paper into protest signs and marched down the middle of the street demanding better security for their children.
Patricia Neindabo was one of the mothers who stopped traffic while chanting “we want security” in French. When the shots that killed 20-year-old Serhan rang out, Neindabo ran outside and saw a young man lying on the ground bleeding from his stomach, receiving CPR from a bystander.
“We can’t stay in our lives like this. Our kids can’t go outside to play. This area is not good for our kids. We need the cameras. We need security,” Neindabo said.
As police continue their search for suspects, municipal politicians are trying to find ways to assuage the fear in the community.
River Ward Coun. Riley Brockington describes the spontaneous protest by the mothers as “raw and real” and is hoping to harness that emotion into a larger march next Wednesday to take back Caldwell Avenue from violence.
He said he wants to present a different side of the community to the rest of the city.
“There is a growing sentiment among Caldwell residents that they are portrayed in the media as a community where only bad things happen,” Brockington said.
“There is a lot of good going on in this community — certainly it has its challenges, but we want to show that we’re united and that we’re working hand in hand in solidarity.”
4 shootings in 2 years on Caldwell Avenue
Along with planning a march, Brockington wants to meet with small groups of residents around a dinner table, so he gets grassroots input on safety concerns instead of just relying on community leaders.
“I want people to know that they are being listened to and heard. And that real action will come about from what happened.”
Ottawa Community Housing CEO Stéphane Giguère said he was proud of the mothers’ decision to protest and take ownership of their community to push for a safer environment. There have been four shootings on Caldwell Avenue in the past two years, including…