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Regent Park SDP Employment and Economic Development Monthly Meeting
By Dimitrije Martinovic
Dimitrije in a staff with FOCUS MEDIA ARTS CENTRE
The Regent Park Social Development Plan (SDP) “was established to guide the revitalization and work collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders who live or work in Regent Park. It incorporated the leadership of residents, grassroots groups, agency partners, institutions, government, Toronto Community Housing, and the City of Toronto. The Stakeholders’ Table was responsible for the implementation, coordination, resourcing, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation of the Refreshed Social Development Plan, as well as maintaining its ongoing relevancy and responsiveness to commmunity needs.” (https://www.toronto.ca)
There are four Working Groups responsible for the implementation of action plans, Community Safety, Employment and Economic Development, Community Building, and Communication.
At recent monthly meeting of the Regent Park SDP Employment and Economic Development, held at the Daniels Spectrum, two key presenters were on hand, the first was Varda Parit a Community Outreach Worker from the Anti-Racism Action Project (ARAP) who presented a short talk that combined a needs assessment survey designed to determine area resident's experiences related to racism. Followed by another ARAP initiative called Healing with T, a Somatic Healing session dealing with how racism is “trauma” that may become buried in the physical body, and which through Somatic Healing therapy individuals can find some relief.
The second speaker was Deparse Cottrell from the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce. “The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce is a cultural non-profit organization formed as a chamber of commerce. It was created to generate commerce for Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to create economic development within our proud Black communities across Canada. The Organization was created and incorporated in 2018.” (www.blackchamber.ca)
In his presentation, Deparse outlined some of the most significant opportunities offered by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, programs tailored to meet the needs of young entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, seniors program, construction and trades, and international trade, with a focus on black participants. This is particular aspect of The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce's mandate is integral to their mission to help black businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups to succeed in an environment that has historically been white-centred.
FOCUS Media Arts Centre (FOCUS) is a not-for-profit organization that was established in 1990 to counter negative media stereotypes of low income communities and provide relevant information to residents living in the Regent Park area and surrounding communities.
We seek to empower marginalized individuals and under represented communities to have a voice, through the use of professional training, mentorships and participatory based media practices that enable the sharing of stories, experiences and perspectives on relevant matters and issues. In brief our mandate is to empower marginalized individuals and under-serviced communities to have a voice and tell their own stories.