As a fiery preacher speaking at the funeral of music manager Elliot Reid-Thomas, gunned down in early 2004, Rev. Don Meredith called on the community to engage politicians to find solutions to the gun violence in Toronto that has claimed the lives of so many young men.
Now, the 46-year-old Mr. Meredith has joined the ranks of those politicos with an appointment to the Senate, where he will represent Ontario.
And the Prime Minister appeared to glance at Mr. Meredith's gang-fighting credentials in his brief statement on the appointment of the pastor and of CFL executive Larry Smith to the Red Chamber.
"Their skills and experience will be invaluable as our government works to pass legislation that is important to the well-being, safety and security of Canadians," Stephen Harper said.
Born in Jamaica, Mr. Meredith studied at Ryerson University and became an entrepreneur. He owns Donscape, a landscaping company. An ordained minister, he preaches at the Pentecostal Praise Centre in Maple, a Toronto suburb.
However, he is best known as an anti-gang-violence activist, helping organize marches in marginalized Toronto neighbourhoods and calling on communities to reach out to disaffected youth. Three years ago, he was among a group that pushed the province for a public inquiry on gun violence after the shooting death of Jordan Manners in a Toronto high school.
He has sat on numerous police advisory organizations, including the Black Community Police Consultative Committee and the Toronto Police Chief's Advisory Service.
Mr. Meredith made a foray into politics in 2008, when he ran against former Ontario premier Bob Rae in a by-election for the Toronto Centre seat in the House of Commons. The contest attracted some minor controversy when the previous Tory nominee in the riding - lawyer Mark Warner - said he was asked by the party to back away from the race for trying to highlight social issues in his campaign.
Mr. Meredith placed fourth, with a little more than 12 per cent of the vote.