Monday, April 11, 2022

Project Hope – Regent Park Police Officers Support Afghan Refugees with Donations

Regent Park Police Officers Mustafa Popalzai and Farzad Ghotbi from 51 Division started Project Hope, an initiative to collect household items, clothing, school supplies and hygiene products to help the new generation of Afghan refugees coming to the GTA as a response to the Canadian government commitment to resettling 40,000 afghan nationals after the Taliban regained control of most of the country with thousands of people desperate to leave Afghanistan back in August 2021.


The Neighborhood Community Officers Popalzai and Ghotbi, came to Canada as refugees from Afghanistan and Iran, both know by their personal experiences the challenges that refugees face in their journey of resettling in a big city like Toronto.


They started Project Hope last year by attending the hotels where these Afghan refugees were landing in, they approached them to know their needs and make sure they feel welcomed after they suffered tremendous difficult times when they arrived in military planes with no backpacks or luggage. Both Police Officers got emotional when they saw the children in the hotels having barely nothing to wear and no toys to play, however, they are thankful to receive the support from the Senior Command and their bosses at 51 Division and be encouraged to take some time off in the Regent Park community to assist these Afghan refugees with donations.


For both Community Officers, it is very important to make sure they build a strong connection with the new generation of refugees and clear some misconceptions about policing, make them feel welcome in the neighborhood and make sure they don’t feel fearful of police but rather protected.


Donations can still be dropped off at 51 Division at 51 Parliament Street. Some of the items they are looking for are: School supplies such as (backpacks, School essentials, tablets/electronics), children’s essentials such as (Diapers and strollers), Hygiene products such as (shampoos, soap, etc).


For more information please contact PC Popalzai/PC Ghotbi  at RegentPark@torontopolice.on.ca


By Fred Alvarado

(Fred is a journalist with the Focus Media Arts Centre)


OASIS The forgotten pool in St. Jamestown

OASIS Food Hub is working in St. James Town to address food insecurity


When you walk a bit further behind food basics in the space between the little park and 200 Wellesley, you will see the old empty swimming pool. The pool is owned by Toronto Community Housing and was closed in 2010, when it was discovered that black tar was leaking into the pool from a newly installed deck. TCHC assessed that the maintenance required to maintain the old pool would be too much. Once a vibrant social hub in the summer, the fenced in pool has stayed forgotten and waiting to be demolished. That is until now.


OASIS Food Hub is a program of the St. James Town Community Co-op, a resident owned and operated organization. OASIS stands for Organic Agro-ecological Sustainable Integrated System. Co-op members and residents developed the OASIS Food Hub model to address food security in St. James Town. Their idea, why not transform the empty pool into an urban organic food farm as a way of addressing food insecurity in the neighbourhood?


Josephine Grey, the founder of the OASIS Food Hub, feels that out model zoning laws and regulations are preventing the use of pool for an organic farm, but that has not stopped OASIS from advocating against out dated barriers that prevent the city from reaching their own sustainable and human rights goals and commitments. It also doesn’t stop OASIS from develop other alternative ways of addressing human rights to food.


In response to the covid pandemic, OASIS has been reaching out and developing relationships to local farms in Ontario to obtain donations of organic farm produce that could be given out to community members who are struggling with food insecurity. Funding support helps to transport and package the produce from the farms in addition to donations received from Food Share and the Daily Food Bank. OASIS also runs two food gardens I the neighbourhood and is developing a feasibility study to build a climate controlled agricultural greenhouse which will be able to provide upwards of 300 pounds of produce and 50 pounds of clean, healthy fish per month.


Find out more in this video about OASIS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgolqyWYNaM&feature=youtu.be



By Adonis Huggins and Nea Maaty

(Adonis and Nea are journalist with the Focus Media Arts Centre)

Regent Park Celebrates The Social Development Plan

The Regent Park Community Meets to Hear About the Regent Park Redevelopment and the Social Development Plan.

On March 23, 2022, the Regent Park Community came together to celebrate the Regent Park Social Development Plan and hear about its activities. The event was held in the Daniels Spectrum Arts Centre located at 585 Dundas Street East.

The first part of the event, taking place from noon to 5 pm, featured a market place of community vendors as well as the official launch of the Community Living room hosted by Centre for Social Innovation (CSI). Located on the first floor of Daniels, the Community Living Room is a partnership between CSI, Daniels and Artscape. The space, consisting of tables, lounge chairs, books, children’s toys, a cafĂ© and a TV, was designed as a public living room for residents and community members to informally gather and use as they see fit. The launch of the space featured a variety of vendors and speeches by Denise Soueidan-O’Leary and Tonya Surman from CSI, Farid Jalil from Artscape and Heela Omarkhail from Daniels.

The second part of the event called Celebrating the Regent Park SDP began at 5 pm and was held in the Ada Sleight Hall of the Daniels Spectrum. This part of the event featured a community dinner; updates on the Regent Park redevelopment from TCHC, Daniels and Tridel; presentations from various committees involved in the Social Development Plan; and entertainment featuring Snooky Tynes funk band, juggling from Square Circle, Chinese dancing from Happy Dancers and spoken word from Spoken by T and Southside Santana. The following is a report of the Celebrating the SDP Event held in the Ada Sleight Hall.

After a delicious dinner, the Celebrating the Regent Park SDP event began with introductions of the three co-chairs, Greg Gary -the co-chair representing the Executive Directors Network, Ismail Afrah- the TCHC resident co-chair and Marlene Degenova-the Market resident co-chair. After the land acknowledgement, Greg Gary invited City Councillor Kristen Wong Tam to give opening remarks.

“I know that the social development plan is a contract between the community, TCHC, their developer partner and the City of Toronto. It’s a document that guides us and our work on your behalf and with you and so that contract is one that we build upon, one that we shape to make sure that it does what it’s suppose to do and keeps us accountable to each other. That work is not easy and it’s done with community and with the leadership of the SDP and the stake holder’s table.” said Kristen Wong.

In her remarks, Kristen Wong-Tam evoked the memory of Councillor Pam McConnel. “I know that Pam would have been so proud to see this community that she loved so dearly.” said Councillor Wong-Tam.

Kristen Wong Tam concluded her remarks with a thank you to the leadership of the SDP and a presentation of certificates honouring SDP and its partnership community organizations.

Following Councillor Kristen Wong Tam opening remarks, the community viewed a video message from MPP Suze Morrison. “Neighbourhoods are only as strong as the community of people who live in them and Regent Park has showed time and time again that community and connectedness is something that exists here in droves.” Said Suze Morrison.

Ismail Afrah, the TCHC resident co-chair of the SDP started the evening presentations by providing information on the structure of the SDP. According to Ismail, the Regent Park Redevelopment consists of a physical plan related to the construction of bricks and mortar and a social development plan related to social development of the community. The Regent Park Social Development Plan, explained Ismail, is a community wide initiative aimed at fostering social inclusion and cohesion. The initiative is focused around four priority areas. The priority areas are Communication, Community Building, Employment and Economic Development and Safety. Each priority area is represented by a working committee comprised of TCHC residents, market residents, grassroots groups and agencies.

Ismail then invited Tereza Todorova from TCHC, to do a joint presentation about the Community Benefits Oversight Working Group and the newly developed terms of reference. The Community Benefits Oversight Working Group will be a newly formed committee that will work with TCHC and Tridel to assist in the allocation of the 26.8 million dollars of community benefits promised to the community. In reviewing the terms of reference for the working group, Tereza explained that in keeping with the values of the values of the social development plan, half of the voting members on the working group will be TCHC tenants and the other half will be Market residents. Other members will be non-voting content experts. Tereza announced that they will soon be looking to recruit residents to the working group and that anyone that is interested should reach out to her.

After hearing the updates from TCHC, Daniels and Tridel, the community now had an opportunity to hear short presentations on the activities of each of the four working groups.

Joel Klassen and Walied Khogali reported on the activities of the community building table. Next the community heard a video presentation from Gail Lynch and Ismail Afrah, who reported on the activities of the Employment and Economic Development. Ines Garcia, a member of the Safety Committee, talked about the delivery of Speaking With Confidence Training Workshops and the Mental Health First Aid Training to residents.

Ibrahim Afra and Adonis Huggins of the communication committee reported on the release of Hello Neighbour, a newly developed community app serving Regent Park. They also reported on the creation of the Regent Park TV Weekly news and the Regent Park monthly newsletter.

Diana Mavunduse concluded the business of the SDP with a video presentation talking about the role of the SDP Planning Committee and its successes.

Following the SDP presentations, the community was treated to a variety of entertainers including a juggling act by Square Circle, Snooky Tynes Funk Band, spoken word performances by Spoken by T and Southside Satana, and Chinese dances from the Happy Dancers. All and all, Celebrating the SDP was a successful evening of food, information and entertainment.


Written by
Adonis Huggins

Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre


Friday, March 25, 2022

Meet The Regent Park Neighbourhood Association Leadership Team

In this video RPTV interviews the leadership of the Regent Park Neighbourhood Association about their involvement in the association.

The Regent Park Neighbourhood Association (RPNA) was formed in early 2015, with an aim of having an equal proportion of TCHC and Market residents involved in its membership. RPNA represents residents of Regent Park and provides a broad range of advocacy, services and events.

RPNA vision is to foster an inclusive, diverse and healthy neighbourhood in which all residents can feel at home.

Recently, in a public announcement made to the community in February 2022, it was announced by members of the leadership team that RPNA had incorporated as a not-for-profit organization and will soon establish an office on the third floor of the Daniels Spectrum Arts Centre. As a not-for-profit organization, RPNA feels that this will give them more access to resources to support membership initiatives and activities. More importantly RPNA feels that resident involvement is critical in the success of the association.

According to Ismail Afrah, a TCHC tenant on the leadership team, " Regent Park is going through a massive revitalization, lots of decisions are being made about how this neighbourhood looks like, and resident leadership is important…without resident leadership this Neighbourhood Association wouldn't work and we need resident voices to help shape how this neighbourhood will be revitalized!"

Gail Lynch, a market resident on the leadership team, who grew up in Barbados, said that growing up her mother instilled the importance of been involved in the community. “Regent Park is a place I care about and where I intend to stay. I felt a need to get involved in what happens in the community and RPNA is one of those places I can do that.”

According to Zaheed Ali, a market resident, "RPNA is a forum for people to be able to express things that they would like to improve on in our neighbourhood and the RPNA is there to be a balanced place where we have both market and TCHC residents to help address these topics and move the community forward."

Moving together as a team is important to Marlene DeGenoa, another market resident. "I try to represent RPNA as best I can out there in the community. But we work together as a team, and everything we do is teamwork." Says Marlene.

The RPNA leadership team consist of Marleen DeGenova (a market resident), Walied Khogali (a TCHC resident), Miguel Avila-Velarde (a TCHC resident), Zaheed Alli (a market resident), Gail Lynch (a market resident) and Ismail Afrah (a TCHC resident).

View this video https://youtu.be/J3N4zkzD4yw to hear what members of the leadership team have to say about RPNA and their activities.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the RPNA email rpna.info@gmail.com


By Adonis Huggins and Ana Higuera

(Adonis and Ana are journalists with the Focus Media Arts Centre)


Facilities Bookings Procedures in Regent Park

Regent Park Community groups work make the “Access to Space” project a working reality for area residents.


The Regent Park Revitalization has substantially altered the landscape of Regent park with new buildings and amenities, among them the Pam McConnell Aquatic Centre, Daniels Spectrum, the Regent Park Athletic Grounds and the Regent Park Community Centre.



The Regent Park Community Centre located at 402 Shuter Street, which is operated by the City of Toronto, is a multi-faceted recreational centre with an employment centre, child care centre, athletic field and connects to Nelson Mandela Park Public School. Additionally, it has an extensive array of arts programs, camps, fitness facilities, sports programs, and the centre has some youth-specific programming.



At a recent community meeting held on March 11, 2022, facilitated by representatives from The City of Toronto Recreational Services and members from the Social Development Plan(SDP) working groups, residents attended an informational session regarding access to the various facilities that are available to residents of Regent Park.



The meeting was kicked off by Leah Woldegiorgis, who is the Access to Space Coordinator for the Community Building Working Group, one of the four working groups of the SDP. Lea explained how she, through the Community Building Working Group, advocates for community members in their needs to have access to space for meetings, recreational activities and celebrations.



Following Leah, Ibrahim Afra and Joel Klassen also from the SDP Community Building Working Group, spoke about role of the SDP in the development of the “Access to Space” initiative. The scope of the project included City space as in the community centre, Toronto Community Housing (TCH) buildings and space availability in other agencies located in Regent Park.



From there Lissette Mejia, the City of Toronto Recreational Programmer, proceeded to unpack the various aspects and conditions that make-up accessing space at the community centre. Among the many points in the presentation covered were how bookings are made, who is eligible, and how the cost of spaces works. For example, bookings fit within certain category types:



  • Not for Profit Residents (Children, Adults, OA Adults)

  • Not For Profit Non Residents (Children, Adults, OA Adults)

  • Family (family gatherings, shower, holiday gatherings, picnics)

  • Not For Profit organizations who might have a budget of under $5,000.00


The meeting was attended by approximately 30 or more area residents who represented a broad range of interests, ages, and organizations, with Lucky Boothe, Recreational Supervisor with the City of Toronto and a well know figure in the community, giving the final remarks.



If you are a Regent Park resident, a not-for profit grassroots group or organization serving Regent Park who desires to book space City operated facilities in Regent Park,

the contact for space booking is Nefertiti.hernandez@toronto.ca



To learn more about space and booking procedures view this video about the Facilities Booking Procedure meeting held on.




Written by
Dimitrije Martinovic

Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre



Saturday, March 12, 2022

Community Organizations and Local City Councillor Call for Action to Acquire Vacant Sherbourne-Dundas Property for Real Affordable Housing

Community Organizations and Local City Councillor Call for Action to Acquire Vacant Sherbourne-Dundas Property for Real Affordable Housing.


On Monday March 7th, members of local agencies and organizations along with local city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam gathered outside at 214-230 Sherbourne St. vacant property (just south of Dundas St. East) to intensify their call on the city to acquire the seven-lot parcel, which has sat vacant for more than a decade. They also want the provincial and federal governments to support the City of Toronto by providing funds to purchase this prime development site as well as address Toronto’s housing and homelessness crisis.

“Losing this property to developers would be such a huge blow to the community and it would create further gentrification,” said social worker Sheryl Lindsay of Regent Park Community Health Centre’s advocacy committee, which organized Monday’s news conference/rally and has long advocated for the city to expropriate or purchase the Sherbourne Street property for social housing.


For the first time since 2018, 214-230 Sherbourne St. is for sale. Bids are due on Friday, March 11 by 3 p.m.

“Having (affordable) housing at this site just makes total sense. Putting a condo there doesn’t. We need to have this property saved,” said Lindsay, who also noted the area is home to several life-saving services low-income and unhoused people rely on to get by.

Frank Coburn, a harm reduction worker and 30-year community member, said it’s important to remember his neighbourhood has a long history of welcoming people from all walks of life and income levels. He said the ongoing and increasing lack of affordable housing in Toronto’s downtown east is becoming a life-or-death matter for many.

“It’s really a state of crisis. People are dying around here,” he shared, while mentioning community members who recently froze to death in bus shelters just down the street. It’s a real tragedy to see human beings wasted like this because of a lack of housing.” Coburn said despite there being several shelters in the area, most are often full.

At last month’s city council meeting, a motion put forward by Councillor Wong-Tam was passed that requested staff explore the feasibility of purchasing 214-230 Sherbourne St. for rent-geared-to-income housing by its March 9 meeting.

It should be noted this matter is currently not on this month’s council agenda.

Regardless, Wong-Tam said she’s confident staff can come up with a plan and line up funds to purchase this site in time.

Wong-Tam, who noted the cost of homelessness is far more expensive than building affordable housing, even went as far as to ask condo developers to go elsewhere, to consider other suitable sites for their projects.

So far, more than 1,800 people have signed an online petition that calls on Toronto city council to acquire/expropriate 214-230 Sherbourne St. for social housing as well as the provincial and federal governments to provide funding to both build and operate it. 


Written by
Fred Alvarado

Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre



Harnessing the Power of our Sun to Power our World

Regent Park Youth involved in the Climate Conversations radio show, speaks to Michelle Bird, Operations and Project Manager with RESCo Energy

In the third episode of Climate Conversations, a show where young people from Regent Park discuss various aspects of environmentalism with experts, organizers, and artists in the field, Jabin Haque and Victoria Nannetti, sit down and have an engaging conversation with Michelle Bird, the Operations Manager and Project Manager with RESCo Energy. They discuss the company’s role in the solar power industry, barriers the industry has faced, who their target audience is, and the upsides and downsides of using solar power in our modern world.

In this interview, Michelle Bird describes RESCo Energy as a “one stop shop” for all of your solar energy needs. Created in 2006, RESCo has been providing solar PV services to commercial and industrial customers across Canada, on their website, they describe themselves as “setting the bar for turnkey expert level solar photovoltaic services”. They have received numerous awards through the years, given to them by a multitude of organizations, including (but not limited to): the Canadian Solar Industries Association, the Toronto Construction Association, and the University of Toronto. Some of their clients include the Great Circle Solar Management Corporation, Humber College, Metrolinx, Toronto Hydro, and the University of Toronto.

At the top of the show, hosts Jabin and Victoria describe their day, and Victoria mentions her stress over the incredibly specific but simultaneously universal stress about her math class. This perspective shapes the lens of Climate Conversations as a whole, as the aim of the show is for young people in Regent Park to understand environmentalism not on a large, corporate or systemic scale, but how they can make change on an individual level in their day to day lives.

The show covers ideas like solar PV in major city centers, with Solar PV generally seen in areas with large flat rooftops, yet in major city centers the varying size and flatness of roofs make it difficult for solar panels to be more effective. We also learn that Ontario, as a province, is very well equipped to facilitate solar PV, as it is a province that receives a large amount of sunshine, as opposed to provinces like British Columbia which receives a large amount of rain on average.

We also learn that a number of years ago, the Ontario Government created a program that formed incentives for companies to invest into the solar power industry. This idea was largely modeled after what was done in Germany. A number of years after this program was introduced, it was discontinued, but it proved effective nonetheless. Without the program to incentivize businesses to invest in solar panels, one would think the industry would trend downward, but the program was so effective that the industry was, and is now able to stand on its own legs.

To listen to the full podcast and learn even more, click the link below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYspGpt0h_M


Written by
Daiem Mohammad

Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre



Monday, February 28, 2022

Celebrating Black History Month – RPNA Monthly Community Meeting

Presenter Joy Henderson, stresses the importance of Allyship as practice to counter the inequities brought on by privilege and power.


The Regent Park Neighbourhood Association (RPNA) was formed in early 2015 by an equal parts small group of both Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) resident & Market resident living in Regent Park. The Association looks to represent the interests of all resident of Regent Park by providing a broad range of advocacy services, as well as building community through events and meetings.

Mission: “The RPNA seeks to create a safe space where where resident voices are amplified on issues that are important to our neighbourhood & take action.” - RPNA

In the first of a series of monthly meetings, the RPNA hosted a virtual community meeting to celebrate Black History month. The featured guest was Joy Henderson, a former Regent Park resident, and Afro-Lakota Child and Youth Care Practitioner/Professor, and writer.

Joy Henderson's has deep roots in Regent Park that stretch back to her childhood, her mother who still lives in the area. As a young person, in the 90’s, Joy became involved in a community based project called Catch da Flava - a youth newsletter publication produced by Focus Media Arts Centre (formerly known as the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre). The publication still continues today http://catchdaflava.blogspot.com/. And so, from these early engagements with the world at large, Joy has built a career that incorporates both her Black and Indigenous backgrounds to address the social inequities faced by racialized communities.

Joy Henderson's presentation to RPNA's community meeting, centers on the importance and practice of “allyship”, a term that defines the act of allyship as “when a person of privilege works in solidarity and partnership with a marginalized group of people to help take down the systems that challenge that group's basic rights, equal access, and ability to thrive in our society." (https://www.edi.

gov/blog/communities/what-allyship). Allyship, seeks to minimize power differentials and enhance the diversity of inclusion.

Allyship, counters such structural and systemic power imbalances as: “in Canada and western states, we are governed by a Christian-Judeo, cis, white, male hetero, abled framework and that has determined our laws, beliefs, social practices and educational practices, work schedules, what we consider manners, our media, what we eat, how we eat, what is professional, what we consider lazy, how we dress.”

For Black people in Canada this means that for example, Black children are more likely to be suspended, put in behavioural programs, arrested for acting out, and more likely to be streamed into applied learning streams.

Promoting Allyship with the celebration of Black History month serves to highlight the need for collaboration across privilege and power.


Intro Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhNZfs8ezZ

www.bensound.com/4800

End Credits: https://freesound.org/s/45808/


Written by
Dimitrije Martinovic

Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre



Regent Park Youth Discuss the Merits and Problems of Screen Time

It wasn’t so long ago that young people growing up in the low-income community of Regent Park, once Canada’s largest community housing complex, would venture outside their community to neighborhoods and the city beyond.  Today, with the popularity and use of cell phones, Regent Park youth have the world at their fingertips. 

The advent of modern technology is something that shook the core of the world. It fundamentally changed the way we perceive our own humanity, has changed our habits, exposes us to new worlds, connects us to the larger world, and has completely uprooted the established normality of the upbringing of young people. The current generation of young adults, teenagers, and kids are growing up in a world with resources that would be beyond belief to previous generations of Regent Parkers just a few decades ago. 

Because these young people were born into a world where these technological advancements were in the process of being made as they grew up, they lack the context and are completely oblivious to the idea of a culture without things like the internet and the myriad of applications that come with a cell phone. At any given time, a young person today carries what would be the equivalent of a camera, a photo album, an audio recorder, a flashlight, a calculator, a notebook, a record player (and record collection), a calendar, a wristwatch, a stopwatch, an alarm clock, and a map of the world in their pocket. 

In this episode of 4GetAboutIt TV’s, four youth from Regent Park, Daiem Mohammad, Saima Islam, Jamelia Parnell, and Samir Abdella, sit and discuss how much time they really spend using their cell phones. They discuss the merits of said screen time, whether or not it is a bad thing and how it affects their psyche. We also get to see the group discuss their feelings and experiences towards Tiktok, a popular video-sharing app that has taken the market by storm. Expect tons of laughs, a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and insightful discussion on this episode of 4GetAboutit TV. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xukFfv_Jz_g&list=PL1ze8eWS2PjQ2dUPUKDr8PPrMiVOHErdz&index=2


Written by
Dawar Naeem

Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre


Thursday, February 24, 2022

A Conversation with Indigenous Author, Storyteller and Activist – Sandi Bourcher

Agencies serving the Indigenous community in Toronto estimate that there are 70,000 residents living in Toronto. Many indigenous habitants reside in the downtown, low-income neighbourhoods of Regent Park, Moss Park and St. James Town. However, far too often Indigenous residents are invisible and only reflected in issues related to homelessness. In an effort to change this, there is a need for stories that better reflect the diversity of Indigenous communities. In recognition of this fact and in honour of international Women’s Day, we present a conversation with Sandi Bourcher.

Sandi Boucher is an Indigenous author, story teller, social activist, and motivational speaker who identifies herself as a Red Thunderbolt woman of the Moon Clan, and a proud member of Seine River First Nation located in Northwestern Ontario.

Sandi feels that her role in life is to empower people by renewing their beliefs in themselves and by increasing their awareness of their own capacity and their own gifts.

Sandi begins her story by talking about her childhood as the daughter of loving and respectful parents. Sandi’s father was French and her mother was Indigenous. The loss of her father through illness at the age of 17 affected her greatly. According to Sandi, her father was someone whom at a young age gave her the confidence to believe that she could be whoever she wants to be. However, that began to change after his death, when she saw how her mother was treated differently when they were alone. This led her to awareness of how Indigenous women are discriminated against.

With the loss of her father, Sandi began to lose her self-confidence and got caught up in an abusive relationship, which Sandi feels is not unusual to Indigenous young women often as a result of generational trauma. After several years of violence, Sandi found the strength to leave the relationship with her two children and begin the process of healing.

Sandi’s mother was instrumental to this healing. According to Sandi, her mom was an amazing Indigenous woman who was wise, full of stories and gave her so much power and strength. The other thing that was instrumental to her healing was her passion for writing. Sandi didn’t know she would become author but diaries were always part of her life.

“Writing has always been how I made sense of my world, especially because as an indigenous young woman, the world didn't make sense to me” said Sandi.

Sandi’s journey was a long one. After leaving her relationship, Sandi’s first job was as a social worker for an Indigenous women’s shelter and she was surprised by how much love she had for this job. The thing she enjoyed most was helping others. This led her to seeking a job with an Indigenous not-for-profit, employment organization as a secretary. Sandi’s desire to rise up the ladder of this organization, led her to return to schooling. In time she was able to achieve her goal of becoming an Executive Director and leading a $4 million-dollar, Indigenous organization. After several years of doing the job, Sandi discovered another desire – to be a full-time writer.

Sandi’s love was always writing but in publishing her first book entitled, Honorary Indian, was the first time she shared her writings with others. In Honorary Indian, Sandi shares the teachings of her Ojibwe Mom with a story for each day. This book was followed by a second book entitled, Her Mother’s Daughter, another daily motivational guide. Sandi wrote her next book, The Path, as action plan to reconciliation for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers. Sandi last book is, I am Awaken, a book about conscious awareness.

Sandi feels her path in life is to help others see their light. She does this through her activism, she does this through her books and she does this through her stories and speaking engagements. Whatever methods she uses, Sandi Bourcher messages are the same – everyone has a valuable gift to share!


By Nea Maaty and Adonis Huggins

(Nea and Adonis are journalists with the Focus Media Arts Centre ~ a partner of The Corner.)