Five years ago, 20-year-old Mark Waweru, then a student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., and a budding hip hop artist, had his first psychotic episode.
It’s a night that changed the course of his life and left him locked in the forensic mental health system in Ontario for more than four years — a system that Waweru and a number of defence lawyers with expertise in the field believe is overrepresented by Black people.
“The hardest thing to grasp was just the time that I lost when I could have been doing productive things in the community,” said Waweru, who is Black.
On Feb. 6, 2016, Waweru, who is now 25 and lives in London, Ont., had just wrapped up his first performance in Niagara Falls, Ont.
That’s when the night took a turn.
According to Waweru, he boarded a bus to Toronto without any money. The notes from his most recent disposition at the Ontario Review Board describe what happened next.
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