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Justice for John Lloyd

Justice for our communities

Mourners left mementos & tributes at a makeshift shrine to honour John Lloyd Barrion at a vigil on February 19.

by Malaya Marcelino

I met with the family of John Lloyd Barrion in their modest home on Saturday, February 19, before a vigil held at the hotel beer vendor parking lot where the 19-year-old was killed. The family told me a little bit about their immigration story and their family.

John Lloyd was the middle child who used his earnings at the beer vendor to directly support his family and save money so that he could put himself through culinary studies. His siblings include three brothers and one sister.

His parents are heartbroken and are barely functioning. John Lloyd’s mother, Maria, described how John Lloyd generously shared the weekly earnings from his minimum wage job to pay for household bills, buy food, clothes, and shoes for his siblings.

John Emmanuel Barrion, brother of John Lloyd, addresses the crowd at the vigil, February 19.
Photo by Malaya Marcelino)

The Barrion family lives across from the hotel yet on those nights when John Lloyd would take the closing shift, a parent or an older sibling would always pick him up to ensure his safety. It’s very plain to see how much the Barrion family cares for one another.

At the vigil, several folks spoke fondly of John Lloyd, including a former teacher from Cecil Rhodes, his friends, classmates, and two of his brothers, John Emmanuel and John Christian. Community leaders offered prayers and a gospel song, Lead Me Lord, as well as words of condolence from Bear Clan. The Winnipeg Police Service was also present to offer condolences.

The most poignant message for me at the vigil came from John Emmanuel, the oldest sibling. He said he would like to see our community be safer for everyone. He said that can happen only when “everyone’s basic needs can be met” and when “young people and anyone who needs it can access mental health and addictions supports.”

In the coming days, there will be questions and demands from our Filipino community about the lack of security measures at John Lloyd’s workplace. Government- run liquor stores have had enhanced security for almost two years due to increased incidents of

violent robberies. Non-unionized workers like John Lloyd at privately-run hotel beer stores are notadequatelyprotected.

Our Filipino community’s wounds have still not healed from the violent death of Jimboy Adao in 2019. John Lloyd’s case has similar strains: another unprovoked robbery and the killing of a promising young man from the same high school, from a tight-knit Filipino newcomer family living in the West End.

Our Filipino community will once again, stand united, and demand that the perpetrators of this heinous crime be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But that’s not all. “Justice for John Lloyd” and “Justice for Jimboy” is also an earnest search for what it means for our neighbourhoods to be safe for everyone. Even Winnipeg Police Chief, Danny Smyth has said that “more policing” will not prevent these violent crimes.

Our Filipino community has learned the brutal way that the safety of our children in this place we’ve immigrated to is not a given. It’s not enough to work hard, study hard, go to church, and stay out of trouble. We live in the

poorest, urban neighbourhoods in all of Canada – the federal riding of Winnipeg Centre.

Childhood poverty rates in our neighbourhoods are almost one out of every two children. That means almost half of the children do not have adequate nutrition, warm clothing or a warm, safe place to live, much less all the other things families need to have a full life like access to transportation, recreation or the Internet. Crushing deprivation like this leads to low school graduation rates, poor mental

health, addictions outcomes, and a higher incidence of violent behaviour. Winnipeg Centre is second in Child Poverty rates only to Manitoba’s North – the federal riding of Churchill-Keewatinook- Aski – where over 70 per cent of all children do not have enough to eat.

Demanding “law and order” justice for John Lloyd is the first step. But the rest of our journey for justice as a Filipino community living in Manitoba must also include advocacy for the social and economic uplift of very vulnerable families who live right next door to us. Just as how we stand united for “law and order” justice, we can also stand united for safer communities for everyone. We can demand that our government implement school nutrition programs. We can demand our government build housing for the poor. We can demand that the government provide free mental health and addictions treatments for young

people and all who need it. And our voices will be amplified if we stand shoulder to shoulder with organizations like Bear Clan and other First Nations groups who are demanding the same.

If you can donate to help this family, please go to https://www. money-for-john.

“Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8

Malaya Marcelino is the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Notre Dame.