One of the great joys of leading and representing the University of Toronto Scarborough is seeing all the amazing things that take place on campus and in Scarborough. I grew up in the east end, had some of my most formative experiences and lived almost half of my life here, but then moved to other parts of the city. Now that I’m back, I’m reminded once again of how beautiful it is, how vibrant and creative the neighborhoods are despite decades of under-investment, and what promise UTSC and Scarborough hold for a more equitable and rewarding society, in keeping with the Canada we are becoming in the 21st century.
Virtually every day brings something new to cheer. Just the other weekend, for example, I came across this quintessential Canadian scene of impromptu hockey and skating on the Rouge Marsh at the foot of the new national urban park.
Four recent UTSC graduates saw the opportunity to fill a gap so they created a combined contemporary art space, working studio and exhibition space for young, emerging artists on Morningside Avenue. In addition to Y+ contemporary’s monthly exhibits, two micro-grants through the Toronto Arts Council support workshops on photography for local youth. The group has already gotten attention in the Toronto arts scene—including a report and photo gallery in the Toronto Star—where the project is seen as a pioneering initiative by an ambitious and bold collective.
Scarborough businessman (and another UTSC alum) Ravi Gukathasan provides another example. Ravi leads a successful business in the area, Digital Specialty Chemicals, but that wasn’t enough for him. For years, he’s followed a ‘dual bottom line’ which means that employees’ human development is as important as the company’s financial results, Now he’s adding a third bottom line: environmental sustainability, and is beautifying the neighbourhood, creating a public park on company property to improve life in the surrounding community.
Scarborough feels like home
These stories are the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What continues to frustrate me immensely is that today’s reality of Scarborough is not widely understood, and many long out-of-date (if ever true) stereotypes and inaccuracies persist.
So one of the goals I have set for myself is to change the narrative. During the months ahead, at two-week (or so) intervals, I intend to share views on issues that shape our future. That includes my enthusiasm about UTSC and Scarborough, and the much more affirming and accurate picture that is the experience shared by residents and visitors alike. I am pleased to be able to lend my voice to the business and arts communities, the Rotarians and other civic groups, and the many elected officials who are doing this too. And since, like everywhere else, there is room for improvement, I will share my concerns about this and other topics, too.
I think this is important. This isn’t about boasting or putting down other areas of Toronto. Let’s share stories about what’s happening in a proud area of the city that 600,000 people call home: the contributions of residents and workers of all ages, and the positive energy generated when people come together. If you’re not familiar with this Scarborough narrative, I invite you to come see it for yourself.
If you agree with me, I trust you will share this and send me your comments.
With all best wishes,