ST. JAMES TOWN TV: The Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC)

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ST. JAMES TOWN TV: The Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC)

By Nea Maaty
(Nea is a journalist with the FOCUS Media Centre)

St. James town is one of the most populated, diverse and multicultural neighbourhoods in Toronto. It has a population density of 44,321 many of whom are from immigrant and newcomer communities.  However not many people know that St. James Town is also home to approximately 1000 indigenous residents.  Who are the indigenous communities that live in the area and what are their needs?  To help answer these questions we turned to the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC).

TASSC is an organization made up of 18 different native organizations that are serving communities across the city in different areas. It offers many services like housing and shelter, employment, education, in addition to cultural and many other support services.

According to Lindsay (Swooping Hawk) Ketschmer - The Executive Director of TASSC, the needs of indigenous communities could vary from an area to another. However, it’s clear that housing has been an increasing issue in addition to the increased isolation and need of mental support. That of course doesn’t exclude the support of prominent issues like food security. TASSC dd a great job reaching out to people from the beginning of the pandemic, getting them familiar with the online portal. Supporting supplemental wages for people have been brought on for delivery, food packs, in addition to supporting transportation, winter clothes, and addiction. The organization also helps with Child care, medicine, and employment for elders and youth. The hotline and online reach tries to get into the largest number of people to know that TASSC member agencies are offering support in these different ways.

Ketschmer believes that as much as the pandemic disrupted our lives, it also showed us how beautifully we can work together. TASSC and its member agencies work well together to keep providing services and supporting the community. “When talking about indigenous communities, we need to think of each other as one community,” said Ketschmer.

When posed with the question on how can St. James Town neighbourhood come together and build more bonds in order to support the indigenous populations, Ketschmer had some important things to say.

“It is important to locate where we are” says Ketschmer, “it’s necessary to connect and reach out to each other”. Ketschmer recommends searching online, getting to know the geographically close cultural centres or first nations friendship centres. She also believes that we need to listen to each other and to ask what could the community need.

“We have a very rich vibrant community. Find who is the local service provider and the indigenous residents of your neighbourhood.”

One of the amazing things that have been done recently by the City of Toronto, is collecting data that shows where folks are located by postal code and across GTA. It is important to know where the folks that are indigenous and identify as indigenous, are living in the neighbourhood.  “There is a long-standing history of indigenous communities in Regent park and St. James town as well.”  said Lindsay.

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Video Upload Date: April 30, 2021

Focus Media Arts (anciennement Regent Park Focus) est un organisme à but non lucratif qui a été créé en 1990 pour contrer les stéréotypes négatifs sur la communauté de Regent Park et fournir des interventions aux jeunes à haut risque vivant dans la région.

Nous sommes motivés par la conviction que les pratiques médiatiques participatives peuvent jouer un rôle vital pour répondre aux besoins locaux et aux priorités de développement, ainsi que pour soutenir le travail de construction et de maintien de communautés saines.

Aujourd'hui, le centre des arts médiatiques FOCUS sert de centre d'apprentissage communautaire pour les nouveaux médias, les arts numériques et la radiodiffusion et la télévision. Nous fournissons un établissement communautaire dédié à la formation et au mentorat des jeunes et à l'engagement des membres de la communauté de tous âges.

Ontario
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Regent Park (Toronto)

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