Jane's Walk's WalkShop on Arrival & the City brought together a lively and diverse group of voices. Speakers who joined us were:
- Minaz Asani-Kanji from Toronto Park People
- Leah Houston, a past Jane’s Walk leader and director of MABELLEarts
- Mona Ismael, also a past Jane’s Walk participant and member of St. James Town Smart Development, and
- Kim Turner from Cities of Migration
About half of Toronto’s population are born outside of Canada, and when I think of arrival I think of movement, borders, place and belonging. Particularly within the global north there is a conceptual framework in analyzing how the migrant body is constructed. These discussions are often loaded with terms such as: “immigrant” “newcomer” “refugee” “multiculturalism” “temporary foreign worker” and “status”. Throughout history migration patterns have influenced and continues to play a vital role in constructing and changing the urban landscape sometimes faster than people can adapt to.
In the context of Jane’s Walk, the discussion is beyond the labels and more about creating dialogue. And this reputation certainly held strong throughout the WalkShop.
Having a mix of researchers, front-line workers artists, past walk leaders, and passionate community members join in the discussion really deepened the WalkShop and provided great insight around immigration and settlement themed walks.
Some thoughts raised by participants were: how children and youth of newcomer families acts as a way to connect their family to communities and services? The suggestion of having more non-English language walks was a comment on the anglicization of the (im)migrant experience and voyeurism surrounding the “immigrant neighborhood” – we need to pay close attention to how these stories are being told and who it is being told by. Jane’s Walk has the capacity to enable communities to reclaim the ways in which we construct settlement narratives, if we keep some of these suggestions in mind and share stories with care, respect and accountability.
Additionally, past walk leaders Mona Ismael and Leah Houston brought up useful tips. Mona spoke of ways to activate stop locations with staged happenings or interactive elements like chalk painting or singing. Leah Houston had a welcome procession comprised of community members from the Mabelle Park neighborhood greet eager Jane’s walkers as they exited Islington station, and also noted that food is a great element, particularly for the wrap up.
Though I am a sucker for any new walk idea, I’ve short-listed my Top 5 New Jane's Walk Ideas of the day (in no particular order):
- A suburban backyard hop - a meet your neighbor event
- Guide me around the neighborhood – a crowdsourced walk for someone new to the community
- 7 Stops of the expansion of the Scarborough RT –a look at the impacts of this development to residents as well a look behind the politics around this construction (an ambitious one for anyone up for the challenge)
- Walk for Landowners/Property owners and managers – tenants or service users give owner(s) a walk around facilities to highlight areas in need of repair
- Parkettes of Mimico – did you know Mimico is an Ojibwe word roughly translated to “abundant with wild pigeons” referring to the passenger pigeons? This area was full with passenger pigeons at the time of European settlement. This walk can potentially speak to the intersections of immigration and native-land.
Photo credit: Jane’s Walk 2014: Toronto, Ontario, Canada | “Arrival And The City WalkShop, 2014” | Guided by Jane’s Walk | Photo by Margaux Yiu.