Christine Lee Teixeira is a graduate of the Jewellery Arts Program at George Brown College
Eric Petersen has a heart of gold bigger than his first ‘Please Stop the Violence’ medallion. Even bigger are his goals, not only for his future, but for that of his community and the youth. He wants to promote peace and the cessation of what he calls a senseless violence forced on innocent victims. He seeks to warn the youth, to inspire them to think about their actions and values, and to give them hope. Eric believes he can do this only by rising to the top of his game, making himself a better designer, a better goldsmith, and a better person.
A recent graduate of the Jewellery Arts Program at George Brown College, Eric won the ‘Louis Frankian Diamond Jewellers Award for excellence in design/best use of diamonds’ and ‘best in design innovation’ at the 2007 Zilberschmuck Juried Exhibition. He is currently apprenticing with master goldsmith Ho Wan Kwan at P&H Design in Toronto.
Raised in a rough Scarborough neighborhood, Eric learned from a young age to handle hard times. Just steps from his house he encounters poverty, violence, prostitution, and drug addicts on a regular basis. He tells stories of himself and friends getting robbed. One friend was surrounded and jumped by ten guys for looking at someone the wrong way; another had a knife held to his throat for sneakers and bus tickets; and in the summer of 2007, Tyler McGill was stabbed to death during an altercation in a McDonalds parking lot.
Tyler was a friend from high school with whom Eric shared classes with. They spent many lunch hours skateboarding and hanging out. Eric describes him as a funny guy that you could never stay mad at, which makes his death all the harder to accept. Tyler’s death is what inspires the Please Stop the Violence line. Originally, the intent was to sell the large golden necklace to a figure in the public eye, someone who could influence change (and also afford the piece, which retails at approximately $7,800). 100% of the profit proceeds from this sale are to be donated to the McGill family. While looking for that person might take time, he decided to come up with a more affordable sterling silver “Please Stop the Violence” line. Pendants on black rubber cord or chain, rings and lapel pins are all handmade by Eric, ranging in price from $90 - $150.
So far, Eric has raised over $400 dollars, with more orders on the way. The money not only goes towards funeral costs, but to the planting of trees and the installation of a memorial plaque at the Ellesmere Community Recreational Centre’s skateboard park, which the city is planning to rename “Tyler McGill Memorial Park”.
The medallion is approximately 100grams of 10 karat gold, and Eric describes it as “solid gold for a solid guy!” Gold, especially yellow, represents purity for Eric. He wanted the medallion to be classic, yet have some hip-hop flavour. The stop sign and the graffiti are symbolic of the street, and the words are clear: “Please STOP the Violence”. He chose a curb chain to represent the skateboarding tricks performed on the curb, and Black ebony links symbolic of mourning. Interestingly enough, Tyler was a fantastic guitar player and coincidentally the wood used came from a guitar.
The 2 spinning link components read ‘respect & inspire’ on one and ‘hope & inspire’ on the other. “Everything starts with respect for yourself. If you can’t live by a code how can you live?”. Eric believes that if life was respected, Tyler would still be alive. Hope. He still has some. It’s tattooed on his arm. “That’s all we can have.” But he knows he will encounter this violence again.
In the future, either with the Stop the Violence line or another, Eric wants to raise more money to donate to groups that work with at risk youths. He also wants to design custom high end /urban jewellery, to bring urban jewellery to a new level beyond ‘bling’ by “mak(ing) jewellery that is bold and that puts a message out there.”
Last updated by MAGadmin Sep 1, 2009.