A Brother from Jane and Finch
By Jesse Zimmerman
February 6, 2005
 
I remember when I was young my parents specifically didn’t want me to go to far West from our neighborhood, for the intersection of Jane and Finch. This was back in the mid-nineties when the area was beginning its trek into infamy. I can understand my parents concerns since I was a child back then and the area didn’t gain a reputation from no where. Of course, so much has changed at Jane and Finch since then. The media often identified Jane and Finch as a major hotspot for crime and violence and it is for this reason that I found myself resenting the region in which I grew up. I found myself sometimes wishing I had been born closer to Condo land or somewhere near the Lake. Nowadays, I look back on myself and find it hard to believe I thought like that.
  
Just as the community has changed, my attitude towards it has also altered over time. Jane and Finch and the surrounding areas, including my area, have been through quite a lot through the past couple of decades. People from all lifestyles and places have pulled through and improved the quality of life and instituting a feeling of pride within the community that resonates to this day. I have to admit that living here, chilling here and going to school here has really had an impact on me. Honestly, I think differently than I believe I would have had I grown up like some rich kid. Being near Jane and Finch has granted me a deeper understanding of people, revealing to me factors like conflict, inequality, a deep cultural exchange and learning how to handle difficult situations. I’ve gained an insight that I wouldn’t trade for any sheltered condo life or suburban “paradise” for my youth. That is a big reason why I am writing for this site. It has allowed me to reach out and share my unique experiences, stretching the bridges of understanding.
  
A few months ago I had attended a meeting with City Council called Listening to Toronto, a public forum hosted at the Toronto Convention Centre. A municipal-wide letter was sent, inviting any members of the city whom wished to participate. The first thing I noticed upon entering the huge conference room was the diversity of the group that was gathered. People from all parts of Toronto, of all races and income levels sat among a many dozen tables. I found my designated seat and met my selected peers. A city serviceman came to our table and the discussions began. We entered a long conference in which we entered our ideas and suggestions for the upcoming City Budget. It was nice to see democracy like this in the Toronto Community.
  
I met Mayor David Miller, some other City Councilors and servicemen and Federal New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, who was invited as a federal representative. I am quite a fan of Mr. Layton and was quite thrilled and honoured to speak with him even though it was brief. This was all quite incredible for a hopeful future politician like me, yet there was another event that occurred at that conference that I will never forget.
 
During the conference at my table, I mentioned that I was from the Jane and Finch area. I brought up various topics that concern the community and particularly youth. The conversation continued furthermore and shifted into another topic. A little later a Jamaican (I believe) lady at my table turned to me and said “By the way, it’s nice to have another brother from the Jane and Finch area with us today.”
 
It was in that moment where I felt that sense of community and understanding. It truly amazed me how two people from very different cultures and backgrounds can connect in such a way. It displayed to me the reality of the Jane and Finch community today and furthered my pride of having grown up here. This area is the most multicultural in the city and Toronto has been named the most multicultural city in the world, therefore Jane and Finch is the single most multicultural region in the world! Though we vary so much from one another we are all connected because of where we live and what we have all been through as a community. No matter where my life takes me I will never forget my roots.
 
I am from Jane and Finch.
 

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