The residents and service providers of St. James Town came together for the Annual St. James Town Spring Gathering 2019 on 22nd March 2019. This was the 6th Spring Gathering organised by residents, Health Access St. James Town and the St. James Town Service Providers’ Network
The Spring Gathering is an annual consultation event organised by residents, Health Access St. James Town, and the St. James Town Service Providers’ Network (SJTSPN). The event is a time to celebrate successes, discuss and identify areas of improvement in the neighbourhood, and collaboratively plan initiatives.
The event was scheduled for 6 pm, residents started arriving by 5:30 pm where they registered and got a light snack and refreshments. Dinner was served at 8pm.
Community members Mia and Yogita were the official hosts for the event. Approximately 250 residents attended the event. The theme for this year’s Spring Gathering was “Resident Leadership and Collaboration”.
The event begun with a land acknowledgement that was also contextualized to identify why it’s important to acknowledge the history and actions that impacted and continue to impact where we are today. Mahlikah, the founding member of Red Slam an Indigenous Art 4 Social Change Movement, engaged the audience in the land acknowledgement.
This was followed by an ice breaker session led by Diana Mavunduse and community members, where community members shared what they love and appreciate about the neighborhood.
SJTSPN Co-Chairs Sehr Athar and Robb Johannes talk about a neighbourhood petition to designate St. James Town as a Neighbourhood Improvement Area (NIA) under The City’s Strong Neighbourhood Strategy 2020. This would allow St. James Town to access funds and supports for community engagement and improvement.
Health Access St. James Town, The Corner, and residents presented the neighbourhood’s response to crisis, also laying out future plans for coordinated crisis response strategies that include the City and local neighbourhood organizations and residents.
Later St. James Town youth spoke regarding the need for more harm reduction services in the neighbourhood. Access to harm reduction supports and services is seen by these youth as a need and benefit to the St. James Town community.
Linda Jackson, Executive Director, St. Michael’s Family Health Teams, presented awards to residents and other stake holders in the community for their exceptional service to the community.
St. James Town Safety Committee making a presentation on safety related initiatives in the neighbourhood and the way forward.
‘Reaching Out Through Music’, the St. James Town choir came out with a beautiful choir performance and had the community enthralled.
Next was time for community consultation. Residents discussed and brainstormed the key issues in the neighbourhood and what can be done to address these. There were 5 underlying topics that were discussed.
A Neighbourhood Association to address community initiatives and needs
Income generation and economic opportunities
Harm reduction initiatives in the neighbourhood
Inter-generational initiatives for youth and seniors
Supporting and connecting newcomers
Residents worked closely with peer facilitators and translators during the community consultation.
The event ended with dinner and evaluation and feedback from residents. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food were served depending on what individuals preferred.
Key findings and outcomes of the consultation are expected soon. Will keep you posted…