Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Amidst a Spike in Violent Attacks, Canadians Flock to Self-Defense Classes

Published: April 5, 2023
A man is seen wearing a mask on the Toronto subway during morning commuting hours on April 1, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. Canadians are flocking to self defense classes amidst a violent crime wave plaguing the nation. (Image: Cole Burston/Getty Images)

Canadians are currently experiencing a spike in violent and other crime, including random stabbings that have hit a number of Canadian cities and claimed innocent lives. The circumstances are prompting many Canadians, particularly in the sprawling metropolis of Toronto, to flock to self defense classes in a bid to keep themselves safe. 

Within the first three weeks of 2023, major crimes in Toronto were up 37.7 percent year-over-year and, excluding homicides, every category of crime has spiked, including thefts by 61.2 percent, assaults by 37.8 percent, sexual violations by 43.5 percent and robberies by 40.2 percent, Canada’s National Post reported. 

The crisis prompted Chris Gagne, the head instructor at the Toronto Krav Maga Academy to develop new classes on self defense which he says are selling out due to high demand.

On April 5, Gagne told NEWSTALK 1010’s Moore in the Morning that “people are really concerned,” and that his classes “sold out really quickly.” 

“It’s tough to function under stress. Your motor skills deteriorate your awareness, you develop tunnel vision,” Gagne said, adding that, “We want people to be able to function even in those circumstances when they’re under duress. And that’s not easy.”

According to Gagne’s website all of his April sessions have been fully booked and he has opened up new classes into May that he suspects will fill up quickly. 

“It’s no secret that people don’t feel safe on public transit,” Gagne writes on his website, adding that, “And why should they? Nearly every day, the headlines cover news stories happening on buses and subways, perpetrated against innocent civilians at random.”

A rash of unprovoked stabbings

The most recent mass stabbing occurred in the city of Calgary, Alberta on April 3, when a man was arrested after stabbing three people in the city’s downtown core. 

The Calgary Police Service (CPS) said that the victims sustained a “range of injuries between minor and serious,” however all remain in stable condition, the Calgary Herald reported.  

No motive has been determined, but the CPS said, “Further details about motive, the nature of the attacks and charges will be released when they become available.”

Two days prior, on April 1, in Surrey British Columbia a man had his throat slashed after an altercation with a man on a bus. Surrey RCMP told Global News that the victim “was transported to hospital with life-threatening injuries,” where he underwent emergency surgery.

Authorities said the attack was “completely unprovoked” and identified the assailant as Abdul Aziz Kawam who has been charged with terrorism related charges after it was determined that he committed the assault for the “Islamic State.”

Just days prior to this, in late March, a 16-year-old, Gabriel Magalhaes was stabbed and killed at a subway station in what the Toronto police said was an “unprovoked” attack. A 22-year-old man, identified as Jordan O’Brien-Tobin of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with first degree murder. 

Over the past year In Vancouver, resident’s have fallen victim to “unprovoked stranger attacks” involving stabbings, attacks with machetes, and in one incident a woman was doused in a flammable liquid and set on fire. 


Crime wave ‘mostly self-inflicted’

Weekly columnist, Adam Zivo, in an op-ed published in the National Post, argues that “The unfortunate reality is that Canada’s crime wave is mostly self-inflicted,” adding that, “Policy-makers have consistently failed to address the root causes of poverty while abandoning communities to violence.”

Zivo believes that Canadian decision makers at all levels of government have “grossly mismanaged the housing crisis, exacerbating homelessness and, in the process, driving individuals towards substance abuse and criminality.”

He blames policy makers for shunning recovery-oriented treatment while embracing lenient drug laws that he says are “unsupported by any serious evidence” and a justice system that prioritizes the well-being of predators over victims.

“Our bail system is broken. Prolific offenders are expeditiously released back into the public, despite disturbing histories of violence. If, by some luck, they are actually convicted, they are too often given scandalously light sentences,” Zivo wrote.

As an example, he cites the release of repeat violent offender, Jordan O’Brien-Tobin, who was released on probation for several offences, including sexual assault. He was ordered by a judge to attend counseling for mental health and substance abuse issues however just two weeks after his release he stabbed and killed 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes.