Media advisory - Community Voices forum and web site gives Toronto's St. James Town residents a powerful new voice

    "For the first time, we have an opportunity to speak!"

    Thursday, March 20, 2008
    5:30 pm to 7.30 p.m.
    Opening remarks/refreshments at 6 p.m.
    Rose Avenue Public School
    675 Ontario Street (in the heart of St. James Town)

    TORONTO, March 14 /CNW/ - In 2007, the Wellesley Institute launched a
significant research and engagement project in North St. James Town to
understand and improve newcomers' health. The Wellesley Institute focuses on
health equity and is one of Canada's leading institutes on urban health
research, community engagement and policy.
    The residents of Toronto's St. James Town neighbourhood have a powerful
new voice with the launch of the Community Voices photo and video initiative,
including an interactive web site. Community Voices is the first and one of
the many activities planned under the Wellesley Institute's St. James Town
Initiative, a long-term research and community capacity-building project. The
St. James Town Initiative works with community residents to identify
neighbourhood issues that affect their health and well-being and develop
strategies to decrease inequality and promote positive change. Community
Matters Toronto, a local grass roots organization in St. James Town, is a
partner with the Wellesley Institute in this long-term project.
    "The residents of St. James Town have important stories to tell," says
Ali Moallim, a St. James Town resident and Community Matters staff. "We know
the strengths and challenges of living in our neighbourhood. By speaking out,
we can start work on developing solutions as a group." Over the years, many
"outside" experts have come to St. James Town. Community Voices is the first
time that community members have had the opportunity to speak for themselves.
    The photos and maps of Community Voices were taken and drawn by community
residents, who added their own stories. Videos and printed materials, which
will be available on a special web site, also feature the voices of the
community. St. James Town is a diverse and unique community. Located in the
east end of downtown Toronto, it is one of the most dense urban areas in the
country with tens of thousands of people living in 18 aging high-rise
buildings in just a few city blocks. The neighbourhood has a rich cultural
mix, with more than one-third of residents identified as South Asian,
one-in-five from East Africa, and many others from the Caribbean and South
East and East Asia. Many of the residents are recent newcomers. When they
arrive in Canada, their health is, on average, higher than resident Canadians.
But after a few years, their health drops below that of resident Canadians.

For further information:

For further information: Nasim Haque, Director, Community Health, St.
James Town Initiative, Wellesley Institute - (416) 972-1010, x259; Michael
Shapcott, Director of Community Engagement, Wellesley Institute - (416)
972-1010, x231; Margaret Coshan, Executive Director, Community Matters Toronto
- (416) 944-9697

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The Wellesley Institute

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