My Life in Jane and Finch
By Julie Nguyen
December 10, 2004
What comes to your mind when you hear the words Jane-Finch?
Well, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the word “dangerous”. An area where people picture plagued with guns, violence, and gangs roaming all over the streets, but generally an area that some people just don’t feel safe to be in. In my opinion, as a resident of this area for 19 years, it’s just like any other area in Toronto. Of course in the past, things may have happened and many people have proclaimed it as the “ghetto” of Toronto. However, the past is the past and we should move on since there is so much goodness that’s not recognized.

Through the years I’ve lived here, I haven’t seen the things that many people believe occur here. I don’t see the so called “thugs” or “gangsters” walking outside late at night with guns looking forward to causing mischief, or the drug dealers on the streets selling drugs to desperate addicts. Although, I’m not trying to say that none of these situations occur in this neighborhood, it’s quite possible that they do here or in any other location. Instead, what I usually see are many hard working families trying their best to survive and put food on the table.

One of the many things that the neighborhood is doing to clean their notorious reputation of the area is the renovation of the Jane-Finch mall; with a complete new modern appearance in and out. There are also some new stores in the mall to further meet the needs of the Jane-Finch public. Their large infamous Sunday flea market encompasses all over the entire mall, and attracts all kinds of people all over the area to check out their great deals with a vast majority of items to choose from.

Every time I go to the Jane-Finch mall, it’s feels like the “Cheers” theme song where people know your name and share your problems. For instance, I frequently shop at Shoppers Drug Mart so often that I’ve made friends with two cashiers there, whenever I see them they are always so delighted to see me shouting “Julie, how are you today?”. With their big smiles on their faces, it gives you and them a good feeling that you have more than a typical cashier and customer relationship. Or one time when I had to get some materials at the sewing and alterations store, I was befriended by the sales person whom recognized me and told me she was an old friend of my family and she was talking about how she remembers when I was younger and how much and how fast I’ve grown.

Another example of what the area is doing to change its negative image is by changing a graphitized wall into a wonderful piece of art at the Driftwood and Grandravine intersection. Perhaps one of the greatest things that I have heard about to have come out of Jane and Finch but has gone unbeknownst to the general public was in June 2004 a village in India called Kasimdevpet presented students of Topcliff Public School with a permanent display they created beside a water well the students had raised money for. Their generous gift provides the 2500 residents of Kasimdevpet, India with daily access to clean drinking water and all the women and children will no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water.

Mainly, I believe that the media plays on the idea of Jane-Finch being the “ghetto” because of some negative incidences that have occurred. But can one claim that their neighborhood is really safe? Be honest with yourself, no area is perfect, conflicts have to arise sometime or another, what I really mean to say is who doesn’t have problems? For instance in the more recently developed suburbs there have been several busts by police regarding the manufacturing of marijuana in homes, also what about the neighborhoods of where drive-by shootings occur? The most recent incidence that occurred just recently was the shooting of a teacher in Brampton at the Bramalea Secondary School parking lot. How come the media and public don’t display these neighborhoods to be as “bad” as Jane-Finch? These things are happening now in different areas, while most of what people think about is what happened back in the past in Jane and Finch. What we really need to do is focus on what we can do to make Toronto as a whole a safer place for us to live and for future generations, not just trying to solve the “Jane-Finch” problem. We shouldn’t let the corrupted behavior of a few individuals ruin such a great tight-knit community that we have grown to cherish.

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