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Why do victims of high-profile tragedies receive more financial help than others?

Pradip Rodrigues

In April 23, 2018, after a rented van ploughed into pedestrians killing 10 and injuring 16, the Toronto Community Foundation, a registered charity launched “TorontoStrong” and raised thousands of dollars to help families of the victims. Whenever high-profile hate crimes or acts of mass terror occur, everyone pays attention and groups or individuals that takes it upon themselves to raise money on behalf of the victims and their families find their fund-raising activity going very well.

Last week Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih announced the creation of the ‘Canada Strong’ fund which will be overseen by Toronto Community Foundation. The goal is to raise $1.5M for the families of Ukraine airline crash . Omar Alghabra, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister and to the deputy prime minister, announces that the federal government would match donations up to $1.5 million to the Canada Strong campaign. In the past as well, businessman Fakih has got reams of publicity and plenty of airtime whenever he has made charitable offers like committing to provide 100 jobs to Syrian refugees. He even offered to re-build the Quebec City mosque that was damaged in the 2017 terrorist attack which claimed the lives of six men and left 19 others wounded. Although one isn’t sure if his offer was taken up given there were plenty of others competing with financial offers of their own. Needless to say, that Canadian tragedy prompted guilt-ridden Canadians to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars for the victims’ families and private donors offered to cover funeral expenses, and repairs to the mosque.

I am sure that every family of the Ukraine Airline crash victims either need or deserve all the help they can get and that includes cash to get through a difficult period.

Any family who has lost a loved one under tragic circumstances can attest to the fact that the loss leaves them emotionally and often financially ruined.

Every day across our great land, innocent people meet a violent and sudden end. Their passing often ends up as a sad statistic. For example, in 2019, 39 pedestrians lost their lives after being struck by vehicles. Ontario Provincial Police reports that including Toronto, 239 people died in traffic collisions in the province in 2019. Besides traffic fatalities, there are victims of robberies, vengeance and home invasions that leave behind broken families. These families can hardly expect businessmen and charitable groups to raise money on their behalf. At the most some individual or friend will launch a GoFundMe initiative that may have a modest financial target. At the most they could expect politicians to voice outrage at the rising level of crime or road fatalities, but no major fund raising activities will be in their forecast.

But somehow society seems to pay more attention to victims of terror attacks and hate crimes while overlooking or merely expressing sadness or regret over the murder or maiming of such victims.

Some Canadians may be right to question whether the life of a pedestrian killed by a speeding vehicle means less than a victim of a hate crime or terrorism. For example, if one of the Ukraine airline victims were to have instead lost his or her life during a home invasion, there would not be such an outpouring of financial support for their grieving family. The family would have to make do with the sympathy that came from neighbours, strangers and their own community of well-wishers.

It is heartening to see businessmen like Mr. Fakih and the federal government doing so much to alleviate the financial suffering of all those suffering families, but perhaps it is also time we had a plan to help the families of victims who’ve met their end under different circumstances. All lives are precious and regardless of how a victim meets his or her end, the families could generally use some financial assistance. However, one suggestion would be that financial help should only be offered to families or victims who are either precariously employed or financially on the edge and not those who may have a million dollar insurance policy or whose family is planning to sue someone or the other for millions of dollars. -CINEWS


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