Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 11:30 a.m., Aug. 26)
Friends, family gather for annual picnic
10 years after tragic death

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The Agoro family (front row left to right) Abiola, Moji, Shola and Bashir (far right) are surrounded by friends and supporters during the 10th annual Dapo Fun Day on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Less than 12 hours after a 22-year-old man was killed in a drive-by shooting in Blackburn Hamlet, the family and friends of another young man who was stabbed to death while trying to break up a fight in 2002, gathered at a nearby park to honour his memory and promote non-violent conflict resolution.

The Dapo Agoro Fun Day was first organized in 2003, roughly one year after the Lester B. Pearson High School student was killed while trying to break up a fight in a downtown dance club just two weeks shy of his graduation dance.

The event was organized as a way for the Agoro family to say thank you to the community that supported them and to honour Dapo's memory by promoting nonviolent conflict resolution through the creation of the Dapo Agoro Foundation for Peace and the Dapo Agoro Peace Award.

Despite the distance of time, Dapo's mother Abiola Agoro says her son's death remains as fresh in her memory as if it happened yesterday.

"The time passes by, but the pain is always there. It never goes away," says Abiola. "I think of Dapo every blessed day and I cherish every day we we're able to spend with him."

Among the many people who turned out for the 10th anniversary of the Dapo Fun Day were several of his old friends who Abiola affectionately calls "Dapo's boys".

"They are so marvelous. They still come by the house and visit or call to see how we are doing. It's been 10 years and they still come and do this," says Abiola.

Family friend Yomi Pratt praises the Agoros for possessing the strength to turn a terrible tragedy into a positive force in the war against knife violence.

"They are very strong, but they also received a lot of support from the community, especially the Nigerian community. It really kept them going," says Pratt.

The Nigerian state television station, NTA, was at the Fun Day picnic to tell the Agoros' story as an example of how expatriate Nigerians contribute to the Canadian mosaic. One of the aspects they focused on is the Dapo Agoro Peace Award which provides an annual bursary to a graduating student at both Lester B. Pearson and Gloucester High School who best exemplifies Dapo's legacy as a peacemaker.

In a tragic case of irony, this year's Fun Day took place 12 hours after 22-year-old Levy Kasende was shot to death in an apparent drive-by shooting outside a nearby housing develop.m.ent on Innes Road.

The Agoro family is hoping the Dapo Agoro Foundation for Peace will achieve charitable status by the end of the year, which will allow them to step up their fundraising efforts. They are also developing several initiatives aimed at tackling knife violence among youth, including a multi-media campaign aimed at warning young people about the dangers of carrying a knife.

This past spring the family received the Ontario Victim Services Award of Distinction for their efforts in combating knife violence and promoting nonviolent conflict resolution.

The Agoro family (second from left) Abiola, Moji, Shola and Bashir (far right) are surrounded by friends and supporters during the 10th annual Dapo Fun Day on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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