‘It’s my life sen­tence’

Marchers hon­our loved ones killed sense­lessly — and speak out to stop it from hap­pen­ing to oth­ers

StarMetro Halifax - - FRONT PAGE - Silas Brown FOR STARMETRO

When Quen­trel Provo or­ga­nized the first Stop the Vi­o­lence march in 2012 he never thought he would be sign­ing au­to­graphs five and a half years later.

“I’m just out here try­ing to cre­ate change and make a dif­fer­ence. I never ex­pected I would sign au­to­graphs, I don’t even have an au­to­graph — I just sign my name and tell them to dream big,” Provo said in an in­ter­view Sun­day.

“But it’s things like that, or kids run­ning up to you to give you hugs when they see you, you know. These are kids that you’ve built re­la­tion­ships with. They see you com­ing in

the schools to speak, and they know who you are and what your message is. It’s a hum­bling feel­ing.”

Provo is the founder and CEO of Stop the Vi­o­lence, an or­ga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to vi­o­lence pre­ven­tion in Hal­i­fax that he started after the death of his cousin in 2012. Each year on June 10, which was pro­claimed Stop the Vi­o­lence Day by Premier Stephen Mcneil in 2016, Provo or­ga­nizes a march in sup­port of vic­tims of vi­o­lence and their fam­i­lies.

Cather­ine John­son was one of about 30 peo­ple who donned red and marched down Got­tin­gen St. on Sun­day.

John­son still deals ev­ery day with the death of her son, Ty­lor Mcin­nis, since he was mur­dered in 2016.

“It’s the most dev­as­tat­ing thing, and it’s a night­mare that I live through ev­ery day. It’s my life sen­tence, be­cause I have a whole life to live with­out him now,” she said.

“(This march) means the world for me be­cause if it wasn’t for Quen­trel start­ing some­thing like this, who’s to say more vi­o­lence wouldn’t hap­pen. It’s putting the word out there, you know, to show ev­ery­body that lives mat­ter. Be­cause Ty­lor’s life mat­tered. You know some­body chose to take his life, who gives him that right to take my son’s life? I chose to have him, I

“IT’S THE MOST DEV­AS­TAT­ING THING, AND IT’S A NIGHT­MARE THAT I LIVE THROUGH EV­ERY DAY. IT’S MY LIFE SEN­TENCE, BE­CAUSE I HAVE A WHOLE LIFE TO LIVE WITH­OUT HIM NOW.” Cather­ine John­son on the death of her son

chose his life.”

This year’s march of about 30 peo­ple was smaller than oth­ers in the past.

The 2016 march drew hun­dreds, in part mo­ti­vated by a rash of homi­cides in the lead up to the event. Provo said be­cause it’s been a rel­a­tively non-vi­o­lent year, fewer peo­ple have felt the need to come out mean­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s message is get­ting across.

“(There) has been a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity and, you know, we’re mak­ing strides each year to make the com­mu­nity bet­ter and it’s start­ing to look bet­ter,” Provo said.

“You prob­a­bly won’t see a ma­jor dif­fer­ence un­til like five to 10 years down the road but it’s been amaz­ing and it’s been a re­ally re­cep­tive message in the com­mu­nity and it’s been a bless­ing.”

Provo said he has faced neg­a­tive

re­ac­tions to his message of vi­o­lence pre­ven­tion, but they don’t dis­cour­age him.

“There’s neg­a­tiv­ity. You know some peo­ple that don’t like what you do. It’s not that you’re do­ing a bad thing, it’s just not ev­ery­one is go­ing to like what you do. I’ve been spit at be­fore, I’ve had a drink thrown at me in the club, lit­tle things, but I don’t let them get to me, I don’t let them bother me. It just mo­ti­vates me to do more,” he said.

“We’re do­ing it for the kids, we’re do­ing it for those peo­ple that, you know, may be in vi­o­lent sit­u­a­tions, we’re try­ing to help pre­vent those type of sit­u­a­tions from hap­pen­ing and them los­ing their life. For peo­ple that, you know, might not be­lieve in the message, the message stays the same. We stand against vi­o­lence and we want to see vi­o­lence de­crease and hope­fully stop some day.”

SILAS BROWN FOR STARMETRO HAL­I­FAX

How kids are re­spond­ing to the move­ment thes­tar.com Quen­trel Provo, or­ga­nizer of Stop the Vi­o­lence march, and Cather­ine John­son walk down No­valea St. in Hal­i­fax on Sun­day. John­son's son, Ty­lor Mcin­nis, was mur­dered in 2016 and she says the march is im­por­tant to her to get out and show 'ev­ery­body that lives mat­ter.'

SILAS BROWN FOR STARMETRO HAL­I­FAX

Paula Cain holds a sign, made to com­mem­o­rate those who have lost their lives to vi­o­lence, dur­ing the Stop the Vi­o­lence march on Sun­day.

SILAS BROWN FOR STARMETRO HAL­I­FAX

Chil­dren chant “stop the vi­o­lence” while march­ing down No­valea St. in Hal­i­fax on Sun­day.

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