‘It’s my life sentence’
Marchers honour loved ones killed senselessly — and speak out to stop it from happening to others
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.”
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.'
Paula Cain holds a sign, made to commemorate those who have lost their lives to violence, during the Stop the Violence march on Sunday.
Children chant “stop the violence” while marching down Novalea St. in Halifax on Sunday.