Jane and Finch
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|Jane and Finch
Elia, University Heights
Jane and Finch is a neighbourhood located in the northwest end of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the district of North York. Centred at the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue West, the area is roughly bounded by Highway 400 to the west, Driftwood Avenue to the east, Grandravine Drive to the south, and Shoreham Drive to the north. It is a multicultural neighbourhood.
The community has one of the largest concentrations of criminal gangs of any area in Canada. It also has "one of the highest proportions of youth, sole-supported families, refugees and immigrants, low-income earners and public housing tenants of any community in Toronto”.
Jane-Finch was originally developed as a model suburb in the 1960s in response to the rapid urban growth of Toronto. The community was planned to accommodate a socially diverse population and included a substantial amount of public housing, but insufficient thought was given to the social infrastructure needed to sustain community life. (A historical name for the general area from 1878 to 1956 was Elia).
The 1960s development plans spearheaded by the Ontario Housing Corporation (OHC) coincided with North York Planning Department’s goal of creating a more urban-looking suburb. Known for its series of high-rise buildings and, concomitantly, its above average population density, Jane-Finch experienced astronomical growth from 1961 to 1971 when the population went from 1,300 to 33,000, thereby accounting for more than 40% of the growth in North York. In general, urban planners, local politicians, residents of Jane-Finch, and others today are of the opinion that the OHC and North York erred seriously, contributing to rapid population growth in the area without anticipating its negative consequences.
In 1973, a group of dedicated residents, politicians and community workers started identifying ways to address community problems. They concentrated their efforts on improving their neighbourhood’s negative image and creating a sense of community pride. Since then the neighbourhood has developed over 30 grassroots associations, including social and health service organizations, based on principles of mutual aid. Jane-Finch residents managed to create the infra-structure that their community needed to become healthy and sustainable. They succeeded in bringing together various sectors to address a wide range of economic, social and recreational needs. The United Way’s “Poverty by Postal Code-The Geography of Neighbourhood Poverty: 1981-2001” (2004) report explained that by 2001, there were more high-poverty neighbourhoods in the former City of North York than in any of the other former cities. More than one in five families in North York live in poverty, and in the Jane-Finch region.
The Toronto City Summit Alliance’s Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force identified the Black Creek Neighbourhood as one of the 13 Priority Neighbourhoods across the city, where there are not enough social services to address the growing needs of the community. The United Way “Strong Neighbourhoods: A Call to Action” (2001) Fact Sheet on Black Creek also reports that the Black Creek Neighbourhood, which is encompassed in the catchment region of this project, has a higher rate of racialized groups, immigrants, recent newcomers, children, youth, lone parents, low income families, low income unattached individuals, lower median household income, higher percentage of households with incomes below $30 000, higher proportion of rental households, higher unemployment, lower percentage of population with university education, and higher percentage of population with less than high school education.
Between 1981 and 2001, the total population of North York grew by 8.7%; higher economic families by 9%, but poor economic families by 80.5%. Poverty intensified in 5 main areas. The most prominent is the Jane-Finch area, where four poor neighbourhoods turned into regions of very high poverty, and a region that previously had low to moderate poverty became classified as having high levels of poverty. By 2001, a major shift had taken place, with the immigrant family population now accounting for 62.4% of the total family population in these communities, and Canadian born families making up the remaining 37.6%. The immigrants were disproportionately poor, as 65% of the ‘poor’ family persons were immigrants. Between 1981 and 2001, the number of racialized individuals also increased by 219%. The racialized family population then accounted for two thirds of the total family population in higher poverty neighbourhoods. Jane and Finch also contains the highest rates of malnutrition and hunger in Canada. See related articles, Poverty in Canada and Economic impact of immigration to Canada As a result, many more children in this area are being raised in high poverty households than in the city as a whole. A community action plan is therefore needed (Jane Finch Neighbourhood Action Plan Report).
Currently, several community-based organizations, businesses, community residents and city staff have joined together to form the Black Creek West Community Capacity Building Project. Funded by the City of Toronto, the project aims to “improve the quality of life for residents living in the Black Creek West community by placing emphasis on building on assets and capacities, prevention, community involvement, diversity and community well-being.” There are also a number of other organizations and networks that have come together to develop programs and solutions to the problems that have been identified in the various reports.
Being one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the City of Toronto, the Jane-Finch community hosts a number of cultural activities:
Palisades Media Arts Academy - provides training in the arts by professionals with experience in audio production, live instrumentation, and film and video production. The program demographic is for youth ages sixteen to twenty nine who are from the Jane and Finch area and are not currently enrolled in school or in the workplace. Some of the facilities include a cinema, recording studio, a lounge area and a computer lab. The program began in February 2012. 
Jane-Finch.com – Jane-Finch.com is a community website dedicated to promoting the positive side of the Jane-Finch neighborhood. The website gives an unprecedented look inside the community and its residents.
International Women's Day – The Jane-Finch community is an active participant in International Women's Day. For example, in 2004, Driftwood Community Centre hosted the event for the community, the theme of which was "Balancing Family and Work." Several community organizations sponsored the event, such as Doorsteps Neighborhood Services, Delta Family Resource Centre, Driftwood Community Centre and the Jane/Finch Community & Family Centre. Other participating agencies included Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, Costi and the North York Women's Centre. Activities of the day included a "Women & Work" resource table, parenting seminars, child care and poetry readings from award-winning poet Lillian Allen. Women were also treated to manicures, hair-braiding and yoga. The Black Creek Community Health Centre also participates in the planning and organizing of International Women's Day, through a Planning Group that hosts a series of community-based planning workshops. The International Women's Day conference provides the opportunity for women in the community to build relationships, develop a coalition across differences and gain skills related to civic participation.
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – The Jane-Finch community gets involved in the ‘’International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.’’ In 1999, MuchMusic hosted a Stop Racism Video Competition, accepting 320 entries nationwide. One of the top ten winners included Paul Nguyen, a Jane-Finch community member and creator of Jane-Finch.com, and his team members Helen Vong and Chris Williams. At the awards show on March 3, 1999, the team was awarded various prizes by Dr. Hedy Fry, Minister of Multiculturalism (see Much Music Stop Racism Video Award).
Toronto Caribbean Carnival Parade Kids’ Carnival – A part of Toronto's celebrated annual ‘’Caribbean Carnival Parade’’ (Caribana) is the Junior Parade for children ages 4-16. This "Kiddie's Carnival" parade and Caribbean marketplace are held in the heart of the Jane-Finch community and are open to the public. Children spend the day proudly showing off their colourful costumes, dancing to festive music, competing for prizes and crowns, and celebrating a sense of pride in their culture and community. In 2006 the parade was held on Saturday July 22, beginning at 10 a.m., north of the Jane-Finch intersection, and ending at 4 p.m. in front of the judging stands in the parking lot of Yorkgate Mall (Jane & Finch).
Canadian Hispanic Day Parade – Run by a non-profit organization that aims to promote the cultural heritage of the Latin American people of Canada, the Canadian Hispanic Day Parade is an annual event held in the Jane-Finch community. In 2006, the 6th annual parade was held on August 26 and 27, beginning at the Jane and Sheppard Mall and ending at the John Booth Arena (Jane and Shoreham). The parade gives the Latin community an opportunity to come together, celebrate a sense of belonging and share Latin culture and heritage with others. It is the only such parade in Canada.
Members of the Hispanic Day Parade/Super Latin World Arts Festival Inc. organizing committee(s) also work to support Jane-Finch youth by raising funds through various fundraising activities. These funds aim to increase youth accessibility to bursaries provided by the Toronto Board of Education and 31 Division, which are offered to 10 students in the Jane Finch community who have been identified as community leaders by the Board of Education. These youth must be pursuing post-secondary education and must be paying a portion of their tuition independently from the bursary. Recognizing that this is not possible for some community youth, members of Hispanic Day Parade/Super Latin World Arts Festival organizing committee(s) raise funds that are held in trust by the Jane-Finch Community and Family Centre and disbursed to selected youth within the community.
Driftwood's Annual Multicultural Festival – Every year, Driftwood Community Centre (4401 Jane Street) holds an Annual Multicultural Festival for the Jane-Finch community. In 2006, the event was held at Driftwood Community Centre on Saturday June 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Many people attended to participate in and enjoy the various activities such as the Cultural Stage, the Children's Dance Theatre, children's activities and games, live animals, and food and drinks.
Two city neighbourhoods cover the area commonly known as "Jane and Finch". From Finch north to Steeles is considered part of the Black Creek community while from Finch south to Sheppard is called Glenfield-Jane Heights.
In 2006, it had a population of 21,715.
- Jamaican – 14%
- South Asian – 10%
- Italian – 10%
- Chinese – 9%
- Vietnamese – 7%
- Canadian – 6%
- Guyanese – 4%
- English – 4%
- Spanish – 4%
- African Black – 3%
- Other – 35%
In 2006, it had a population of 30,715.
Major ethnic populations (2006):
- Italian – 5,675
- Vietnamese – 3,020
- East Indian – 2,945
- Chinese – 2,930
- Jamaican – 2,645
- Canadian – 1,425
- Spanish – 1,395
- African – 935
- Guyanese – 810
- Ecuadorian – 780
Places of interest
- Black Creek Pioneer Village
- York University
- Rexall Centre (venue for the professional Canada Masters tournament)
- Seneca College (Seneca@York and Yorkgate Mall campuses)
- Toronto Public Library (York Woods Library, including its Theatre, and Jane Sheppard Library)
- Jane Finch Mall (featured in the video for Organized Rhyme's hit song "Check the O.R.")
- Yorkgate Mall
- Chuckie Akenz, hip hop musician
- Anthony Bennett, top overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers
- Jully Black, R&B musician
- Denham Brown, professional basketball player
- Dream Warriors, hip hop group
- Dwight Drummond, broadcaster
- Olu Famutimi, professional basketball player
- Melanie Fiona, R&B musician
- Glenn Lewis, R&B musician
- Michie Mee, hip hop musician
- Carlos Newton, former UFC Champion
- Paul Nguyen, community activist
- Cabral "Cabbie" Richards, TV personality
- Mark Simms, community activist
- p. 5, A Report of the Jane-Finch Street Involved Youth Issues Coalition, December 2002
- Nick Aveling (January 8, 2009). "Rebranding Jane and Finch". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "History of Elia". Toronto Neighbourhoods Guide. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- Sakamoto, 1986
- Trillium Foundation, Press Release, 1998 cited by MacNevin, Wanda, From the Edge: A Woman’s Evolution from Abuse to Activism, Picas and Points Publishing, 1999, p. 236-37
- "Black Creek neighbourhood profile". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "Glenfield-Jane Heights neighbourhood profile". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- "Organized Rhyme - Check the O.R.". jane-finch.com. March 23, 2005. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- Anderson, Kelli (March 18, 2013). "Canada's Got Talent". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
- Black Creek West