Saskatoon youth organize a community walk in honour of Brandon Applegate

A community walk was held on Oct. 8, 2022 in honour of Brandon Applegate and the violence everyone is facing. Emily-May Simmonds / Global News

Over a hundred Saskatoon youth and residents made their way to Pleasant Hill Park Saturday to participate in a walk aimed at raising awareness about the violence people face in Saskatchewan.

The walk was in honour of Brandon Applegate who was murdered by Justin Ballantyne on Oct. 4, 2020.

Read more: Brandon Applegate’s death is a devastating loss for Saskatoon, community members say

Applegate was 22 years old at the time of his death and was heavily involved with volunteering in the community.

For Allison Forsberg, a Chokecherry Studios Wapahki Coordinator who was in attendance at the walk, today is about showing the public the impact violence has on everyone.

“Two years ago unfortunately we lost one of our youths… He was very involved with our community and it’s unfortunate that violence does happen and it’s unfortunate he lost his life to that,” she said.

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As they walked through the community, people shared their stories about violence and offered support to one another.

“It’s important for us to provide a community and a safe place and to allow a safe place to talk about violence,” Forsberg said.

A sign can be seen at Saturday’s walk, as community members came together do discuss the violence they have seen. Emily-May Simmonds / Global News

“I feel like a lot of times with something so controversial like violence there is a lot of ‘Oh you’re a bad person because you go out and commit these crimes.’ But it’s not just that. There is a lot of systematic oppression and racism that goes into it.”

One of the members in attendance was Saskatoon Ward 2 city councillor Hilary Gough. For her, the event was a chance to learn about the violence youth face and the hurt they have been through.

Read more: Regina residents waiting for harm reduction issues to be addressed by the city and police

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“I think it is important we hear from youth who know people like Brandon who understand the value that young people bring to our community and the risks they face,” Gough said.

“We have a lot of work to do, and we are not going to get there without understanding what the experience of young people are.”

Gough believes the walk is just one step in helping to create a community for people to open up about the struggles they have faced.

“The solutions to ending violence aren’t individual solutions,” Gough said. “I think people come together to have conversations like this and to show solidarity because they don’t want to feel alone and they don’t want their community to feel alone.”

While the walk was in honour of Brandon, the discussion of violence was much more widespread throughout the day.

“It’s not just for Brandon,” Forsberg said. “It is for everything happening in Ukraine and on James Smith Cree Nation and all around the world. There is a lot of hurting going on right now.”

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