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Construction leaders mourn: Boakye wanted to improve our community

Angela Gismondi
Construction leaders mourn: Boakye wanted to improve our community
TCBN — Samuel Boakye, a 30-year-old construction worker from the Jane and Finch community in Toronto, was gunned down Sept. 7. Boakye co-founded Out of the Box social enterprise where he supported numerous Black youth to build skills in construction. A GoFundMe page has been set up for his wife and two young children.

It’s been over a week since Kwadwo Asamoah (Samuel) Boakye was shot and killed in a senseless act of violence and family, friends and those who knew him in the construction community are still in shock, mourning his loss.

Sources say Boakye, 30, a mentor and construction business owner from Toronto’s Jane and Finch community, was visiting his family in the area when he was gunned down on Sept. 7.

He accomplished many things in his young life, including co-founding Out of the Box, a social enterprise providing construction services and training for people from underrepresented communities.

“I was shocked, it didn’t feel real,” said Ameen Binwalee, who used to be Boakye’s business partner. “I am still processing to be honest.

“To me he was a light in the community. He wanted to make our community better. He was very much focused on unifying the community and any people that may have adversity in the neighbourhood.”

The pair first met while working at the African Canadian Legal Clinic where they were youth justice workers. They eventually decided to start a construction business together.

“He was my business partner for about five years,” Binwalee said. “I did the construction side and he was really big into the community development side of the business. Our company being a social enterprise we hire and train youth.”

Boakye was an active member of the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN) and one of the first mentors in the NexGen Builders program which mentors youth looking to enter the skilled trades.

Boakye grew up in the Jane and Finch community, which has historically suffered from challenges such as underinvestment and poverty, said Rosemarie Powell, executive director of the TCBN. He made something of his life and he wanted to help others to do the same.

“Here is a young man who basically rose above all of that and was trying to do better for himself, for his family, for his community. He was taken away from us so early, so much promise that was lost,” said Powell.

“We’re talking about wanting to get Black contractors into the construction industry. Well if they get snuffed out who is going to be left to hire those young people? He recognized that it was so hard to get people in the industry. He himself wanted to be able to apprentice and give hours to young people through his business to other Black youth.”

Boakye was also a member of the Carpenters’ Union Local 27 and registered his new company, Build & Builders Development Corp., with the union earlier this year.

Chris Campbell, equity and diversity representative with the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, said Boakye was a friend that called for advice on getting contracts.

“Samuel always attended and spoke at events that promote and encourage opportunities for local area youth of his community,” Campbell said in an email to the Daily Commercial News.

“I can recall him sending young people to the union to get signed up over several years without any fanfare. He genuinely cared about youth in his neighbourhood. It would be the right thing for the local city councillor to recognize him posthumously for trying to make a difference.”

Police are still looking for witnesses who may have been driving in the Driftwood Avenue and Grandravine Drive area that day and they are not ruling out that Boakye may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact police at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or online at www.222tips.com.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Boakye’s wife and two young children. Visit https://gofund.me/1d7aea99

 

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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