Friday, December 18, 2020

Hubs in Regent Park – the Daniels Spectrum

In the first of these series, Jamelia explores various hubs available to young people in Regent Park.

On September 2012, the Daniel’s Spectrum opened up its doors to the public. Located in the heart of Regent Park, on 585 Dundas Street East, the building was designed specifically as an arts hub, and it shows. The outside building d├ęcor is illuminated with vibrant colours and a digital display, symbolizing that there is something bold going on inside.

To get more insight into this boldness, I had a conversation with Jermyn Creed, the Community Manager of the Daniels Spectrum, about the role it plays in the community and the broader city.

According to Jermyn, Daniels Spectrum is an important part of the Regent Park community because it gives low-income residents of Regent Park access to a wide variety of arts programming that normally would be out of their reach. The building not only gives youth a place to hang out after school but also offers opportunities for children and youth to get involved in visual arts, dance, theatre, poetry, music and film.

One example of the centre’s creative programming is the Ada Slaight Mentorship Program. This program annually connects youth interested in the arts with professional artists – people who are making a living off their art. Jermyn believes that this program dissolves the misconception of the “starving artist” syndrome. “Programs like these are important because it tells youth that they should not be afraid to go after their passions, contrary to popular belief,” says Jermyn.

Daniels Spectrum is not only open to residents of the Regent Park community, its programming is available to people from all over the city, and even the world through hosting events such as film screenings, music concerts and festivals, theatre performances, conferences and weddings.

If you are starving for the arts – the Daniels Spectrum is the place to be. 

Watch Video:


By Jamelia Parnell

Jamelia is a youth journalist with the FOCUS Media Arts Centre.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Youth Activism in An Adult World

Throughout history, the youth have always been at the forefront of activism, boldly demanding change. Today’s youth, Generation Z, is just as passionate in taking a stand as those who stood before. In today’s time, we have passionate, articulate activists such as Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez, and Amariyanna Copeny. Due to the capabilities of social media, the youth also can create a tightly knit online community. This is especially beneficial when it comes to activism, as plans for action, and calls for support are easily shared to many people. However, outside of the social media bubble, the outlook of youth is often criticized and mocked by adults. The main contradictions fall under youthful naivety, or the lack of education. Through speaking out for climate change, Greta Thunberg has been wrongfully ridiculed by President Trump, amongst many others twice or triple her age. This response from so-called leaders breeds frustration, especially as this generation is the one that will be most impacted by the issues that they speak out about. These perspectives of today’s youth must be challenged, instead of stifled. Instead of looking to humiliate, social media posts should create respectful and thoughtful conversations. As this generation will inevitably inherit the planet, why should they not have a say in what state they will inherit it in?

Backlash against youth activism is found within both the physical world, and what lies within our phone and computer screens. Regardless of the source, the message is clear: stay silent. Though someone can easily post a picture in support of a cause, another can just as easily make an ignorant or hostile comment. Though anger should not be deterred for the sake of a comfortable conversation, the anonymity of social media can enable extreme toxicity to fester, to the point where the receiver of these comments feels physically unsafe. It is difficult to realize what is merely a threat on the internet, and what is a threat in real life. With society’s integration of technology in every aspect of life, the online world has molded into the physical. For example, those who have been attending the BLM protests have been urged not to take photos of other protestors. Past activists have been identified and tracked down from social media pages, then hurt (and killed) due their support of BLM. This danger may not be entirely commonplace, but it is real.

There are also society's own biases that make it challenging for, not only activists, but everyday people, to speak out against inequality. The stereotype of the “angry black man/woman” is especially relevant, as it twists an individual’s rightful anger into an “overreaction.” Those in opposition turn the problem against the individual, questioning their composure and mocking their lack of articulation, instead of evaluating the cause of anger in the first place. This is dehumanizing, as it condemns a whole person into a single characteristic, while allowing everyone else to continue about their lives. In our defensiveness, we, as a society, consistently do not address the problem. Those who speak out are discouraged, and we do not move forward.


As Gen Z is born in a different time, they are bound to have different perspectives. It is time that these perspectives, with all its complexities, contradictions, and shortcomings, are embraced and integrated within conversations. Those born of past generations must do its part to create challenged thinkers instead of attempting to train simple, obedient students. This generation already has a clear understanding of our harsh realities, as it quite literally grew up with tragedy. From terrorist attacks, to school shootings, to greedy politics, there is a distrust that society’s leaders truly have our best intentions in mind. However, instead of growing cynical and turning their backs on this world, the youth attempt to better it. Therefore, it is only right that we do not turn our backs on them.

Written by
Minerva Navasca

Youth Journalist
FOCUS Media Arts Centre

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Introduction to new MP for Toronto Centre MARCI IEN

Born in St. Jamestown, the newly elected Liberal MP, reflects on her core beliefs and lived experiences.

In this episode of Regent Park TV, reporter Dimitrije Martinovic, introduces Regent Park and Toronto Centre to their new Member of Parliament. On September 17, 2020, Marci Ien was announced as the Liberal candidate for the by-election to the 43rd Canadian Parliament for Toronto Centre, following the resignation of Bill Morneau. Marci won the by-election on October 26, 2020, defeating Green Party of Canada leader Annamie Paul and NDP candidate Brian Chang.

Marci Ien is a Black Canadian of Trinidadian descent. Ien graduated with a degree in radio and television arts from Ryerson University in 1991. She began her journalism career at CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario in 1991 as a news writer and general assignment reporter. In 1995 she began reporting from Queen's Park in Toronto, with her reports appearing both on CHCH's local news and on WIC's national newscast Canada Tonight. In 1997 she moved to CTV as a reporter for CTV Atlantic, covering major stories including the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia. In 1995, Ien won a Radio Television Digital News Association Award for her news serial Journey to Freedom, a look at the Underground Railroad. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Award in the media category. In 2014, she was granted the Planet Africa Award for excellence in media. In 2015, Ien garnered a Canadian Screen Award nomination in the Best Host category for her work on Canada AM. In 2016, she was honored with an African Canadian Achievement Award for her journalistic achievements.

It was while Marci Ien was still a professional broadcaster (CHCH-TV in Hamilton and on CTV’s The Social and Canada AM 1991 - 2020) that the idea of moving to politics slowly began to dawn her. Being a woman of colour gave her reportage a unique perspective and platform to both comment on what was happening, and to help shape an image of a positive and successful person of colour operating in the public spere. 

Marci Ien’s entry into politics is precipitated by the vacancy left by the resignation of Bill Morneau (17 August 2020) the previous Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Toronto Centre. Born in St. Jamestown, the character of the downtown east side was all too familiar to Marci, and she knew that this was a community she could represent. In the recent interview she did with RPTV News, Marci Ien described the neighbourhood as, “diverse in every single way … there is socio-economic diversity, race, origin, ethnicity … but I would call it eclectic, diverse, beautiful.”

As the new MP for the riding Toronto Centre (which includes Moss Park, Regent Park, Cabbage Town, Church-Wellesley Village, and St. Jamestown), Marci Ien is keenly aware that the coronavirus pandemic has drawn out the systemic inequalities that underscore the lives of many low-income people, indigenous people, immigrants, homeless people and people living with mental health and substance abuse issues. Attending to these matters Marci intends to continue listening to what her constituents are saying to her, to pool the resources of many of the already existing social service providers, and to better channel initiatives that might be coming from Federal, Provincial, and Municipal coffers to the hard-hit neighbourhoods of the area.

In today’s political landscape The Black Lives Matter Movement has become a pivotal point for politicians to contend with, as a woman of colour and now MP, Marci Ien has a long history of dedication to challenging the representation of Black people in the public roles. She lists her own thirty-year career in journalism and its many firsts, such as the first Black woman to co-host a national morning show. And furthermore, it is her lived experience as a Black woman that motivates her to keep the concerns of race front and center at all times.

Written by
Dimitrije Martinovic

FOCUS Media Arts Centre