One of the Reasons We’re Thankful…

DSC_0153 Our awesome team hosted an amazing Thanksgiving dinner last night at CRC | Regent Park Community Food Centre. We have much to be thankful for: devoted volunteers, generous supporters, and amazing community members, who strive to overcome extraordinary obstacles to become their best selves and teach us all about being brave.

One of our great privileges at CRC | RPCFC is that lots of bright, engaged students want to work or do an internship here. We have a strong reputation as a great place to work and an innovative learning environment. So between mandatory placements that students must complete as part of their degrees (Social Work, Community Service Worker, etc.) and funding that we get through the federal Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, we often have a pretty full house of awesome students on deck.

This summer, we had 10 students on board – five in paid summer jobs through the CSJ funding stream, and five doing their co-curricular placements. It is so fun to have them around. They bring new ideas and energy; new connections to the community, wider city, and academe; and we learn a lot about our work through teaching them. Wherever possible, we try to hire/place students who already have a connection to Regent Park and the downtown east. It’s good community development, and it enriches our knowledge base about the community we serve.

One of our rock star students this summer was Farihah.

Many of the students share a working pod just outside my office, so I get to chat with them regularly between meetings and hear what’s happening between them and their supervisors. When Farihah arrived, she was a bit quiet and reserved, but very dignified. Over the course of the summer, so much more of her character and fierce, bubbly personality emerged. She was clearly finding her stride and contributing a great deal to the planning and execution of Taste of Regent Park, our weekly market, meal, and movie in the park. Now in its third year, Taste of Regent Park has become so popular as a space for local vendors to sell and community members to gather that we’re planning to expand it into a year-round event – and amazing ambassadors like Farihah are in part responsible for that success.DSC_0202

Farihah put together her thoughts on what it was like to spend her summer at the CRC | RPCFC. Many of us who read her piece were really moved. It’s pretty awesome to see local leadership developing right before our very eyes.

I hope you enjoy Farihah’s piece – and maybe it will prompt you to consider things for which you are thankful, and how you might pay those things forward to benefit our greater community. We’d deeply appreciate a gift of your financial support in this bountiful season. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Claire Barcik, Executive Director


What I Have to Say: A Taste of Regent Park 2017 Retrospective

By Farihah KhanFarihah

Hi! I’m Farihah, and I’m working with the Taste of Regent Park team to bring an awesome festival and food to residents of Regent Park and everyone else who has joined us so far!

I work behind the scenes of ToRP alongside my awesome bosses Sonia, Cavell, and Molly. (Yasssss, girl power!)

I’ll be very honest: So when I first joined the team, I was nervous, partly because this was my first real job outside of summer camps, and also because I didn’t believe in myself enough to think I could pull through this. I was recommended by staff from a summer jobs program, and it never really dawned on me my self worth… until I joined this team of supporting and loving ladies. They’ve made me gain some good attributes and skills. I’ve learned more at CRC this summer than I have in my past 18 years. And this must come as a shock to most of you, but I’ve gained real life skills that I can carry with me for the rest of my life. I not only learned by just working, but also by talking and getting to know about experiences from much wiser people.

ToRPoverview-300x200Working with ToRP has opened many doors for me while closing a few dark ones. I’ve learned to appreciate myself and the opinion I have. Everyone’s input is important!

Working with ToRP has also given me the chance to connect with my neighbourhood more, I’ve made friends with some of our food vendors, and have been given advice – and free food! – that I will forever be grateful for!

One thing I like about ToRP is the fact that we try to break the stereotype that surrounds our neighbourhood by bringing out the culture, residents, and overall the good of this place. Living in Regent Park for most of my life, I’ve been a witness to the destruction of this neighbourhood. Violence, revitalization, and DSC_0127 (1)hatred had made Regent Park a danger to everyone looking from outside. I’d like to think that with ToRP we can change that view.

As a resident of Regent Park, I understand how difficult it sometimes is to juggle rent, living expenses, and other ordeals for the many low- to middle-income families residing here. So I bring that knowledge and empathy with me to my job and use that information to input ideas and make sure people can afford our meals and produce. It is our job at ToRP to make everything we sell or doat the market enjoyable and affordable. I’d like to think we’re doing a pretty good job so far.

DSC_0279So then you must be asking: What do I do? I could say I do a little bit of everything. If I get a task assigned to me, you bet I’ll get working on it! I mainly do social media promotion and overall outreach. So if you’ve seen the graffiti stencils (all legal!) that we leave all around Regent Park and nearby Cabbagetown, holla at me!

Nearing the end of this year’s festival, I’d say time flew by so fast. But there is that saying: “Time flies by when you’re having fun!” And I wholly believe in that.DSC_0577

This team is amazing! I couldn’t be prouder to be a part. Team work makes the dream work!