Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Charla Huber: Gun violence isn't just an American issue

In recent weeks, we’ve seen Jewish schools hit by gunshots and the targeted fatal shooting of a man and his 11-year-old son in Edmonton
A police vehicle sits outside the Yeshiva Gedola, a ­Montreal Jewish school that was hit by gunshots for the second time in three days. Christinne Muschi, The Canadian Press

I was going to start this column by saying that the gun violence in Canada over these past few weeks has been troubling.

Troubling isn’t the right word, and in all honestly, I am not sure what the correct word is.

News outlets have been reporting on targeted attacks on Jewish schools. One school in Montreal had two targeted shootings twice in a week.

For Jewish parents, fear for their children’s safety has to be at the forefront every minute their kids are at school — not to mention when they’re packing lunches and tucking their kids into bed, knowing they are going to school in the morning.

On Nov. 9, we learned of a father and his 11-year-old son who were both fatally shot in their car in Edmonton in what’s believed to be an act of gang violence.

Another 11-year-old boy, not related to family, was in the car and witnessed these horrific acts. I can’t ­imagine how that event will affect that boy for the rest of his life, as well as those around him.

It’s common for Canadians to think of the U.S. when we hear of mass shootings and gun violence — it’s something for which the U.S. is known globally.

But gun violence in Canada is on the rise. Canadians on the East Coast were alerted to potential danger after the tragic mass shooting in Maine in October.

The Canada Border Services Agency issued an “armed and dangerous” alert for officers along the Canada-U.S. border, in case the suspect responsible for killing at least 18 people tried to enter our country.

Last May, the federal government issued a warning to Canadians travelling south of the border after more than 250 mass shootings occurred within a five-month period.

I was in Grade 11 when the Columbine High School massacre occurred in Columbine, Colorado. Two Grade 12 students murdered 12 students and one teacher at the school on April 20, 1999.

That same week, a student called in a prank bomb threat to my school, and we were put on the first ­lockdown of its kind for the school. Through the student grapevine, I had heard it was a hoax. Some student ­trying to be funny. Not funny.

Eight days after Columbine, there was a school shooting in Taber, Alta., a small town not far from ­Calgary. I remember thinking I was grateful to be almost finished high school, so I wouldn’t have to ­personally worry about high school shootings.

My thought, at 17, that “once I am out of high school I never have to think of this again” was so naïve and selfish.

Now I am a parent to a teenage daughter, and the thought of her ever having to experience a school shooting is terrifying.

Last year, there was an incident where people with firearms were spotted near her school and it went into lockdown. She called me from her classroom to tell me what was happening. It was a reminder of the reality that these things can happen in our community.

We all have the right to be safe, and when we look at the alarming rise in gun violence, we need to think ­bigger than of ourselves, and our family members. No one should be subjected to this violence.

In 2022, the capital region was shaken by the shootout at the Bank of Montreal branch in ­Saanich. Many people are still living with lasting trauma, ­physical and mental, from that event, which even has its own Wikipedia page.

Gun violence affects the victims, the first ­responders, and everyone in the community. It’s not just an American issue, and it’s not just about schools.

Mass shootings, and targeted gun attacks, are acts of terrorism stemming from global conflicts, gang-related violence and intimate-partner violence.

I wish I had an answer, or words of wisdom for us to come together and find a way to solve this, but I don’t.

At this moment, all I can do is share my thoughts on gun violence and highlight events over the past few weeks.

These stories are hard to hear, and we may not know someone directly affected, but maybe that’s the point.

How can we as Canadians work to make this ­country safer so we can stay in the privileged position of not knowing anyone directly affected by gun violence, ­terrorism, and mass shootings?

If you are reading this and you have been directly affected by these tragic, senseless acts, my ­condolences to you and your family.

One shooting is too many.

Charla Huber is an Indigenous communications consultant based in the capital region. Her family is from Beausoleil First Nation and Fort Chipewyan.