Scarborough.

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What do you think of the term 'ethnic food'?

Media often use this descriptor to talk about global cuisine, but is it appropriate to use?

Earlier this week, I published my second story addressing a Scarborough stereotype — this time, focused on strip malls. In our Scarborough Discourse Facebook group, some members discussed how visiting outsiders would look down on these aging structures, and instantly conclude that Scarborough has no culture or community. Residents, on the other hand, know strip malls are actually thriving community hubs.

There, they told me, you can find a variety of delicious cuisines at family-run restaurants, including Filipino, Indian/Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Lebanese and Tanzanian (to name a few). These strip malls also house hair salons, textile shops, grocery markets and convenience stores that’ve been serving their diverse communities for decades. Because these malls are considered community hubs, Toronto Public Library branches and community health centres are also often located inside them, according to Daniel Rotsztain, an urban geographer I interviewed.

Many of you responded to my call for photo submissions of your favourite strip malls, and accompanied them with heartfelt anecdotes. We have plans to highlight your Scarborough strip-mall love, so keep an eye out for that!

For now, I’m researching yet another stereotype: the perception of Scarborough as a crime-ridden suburb. In our first-ever Story Circle held last month, some attendees pointed out that Scarborough is a city in itself — and like any city, it has parts that are seen as dangerous and parts that are considered safe. Meanwhile, some members of our Facebook group said they feel safe in their communities, but also want more transparency around how municipal funds are being spent in Scarborough, particularly on youth programs. They also want information on how police presence, including auxiliary officers, is being allocated across neighbourhoods.

If you have story tips or ideas for other stereotypes I should investigate, please respond to this email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Real talk

While editing my strip-malls article, Discourse investigative producer Robin Perelle posed an interesting question: Is ethnic food — a descriptor often used by media to talk about global cuisine — an appropriate term to use? How do locals prefer to describe all these available dining options? So, I asked our Scarborough Discourse Facebook group, and we had quite the discussion. What do you think of the term “ethnic food”?

Let’s meet up

  • Dec. 14. Operation Jingle. Officers from 41 Division of the Toronto Police Service will hand out purse bells to help raise awareness about thefts during the holidays. The small bells attach to your wallet zipper, and will alert you if someone tries to steal your wallet. One bell per purse will be given out. Eglinton Square food court. 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

  • Dec. 14. The Star movie screening. Kids will enjoy an evening of cookie-making and crafts, topped off with a screening of the Christmas movie, The Star. Snacks will be providedSt. Mark’s United Church. 7 to 8:30 p.m.

  • Dec. 15. Christmas Miracles: A Celebration of Unexpected Gifts. An evening of Christmas songs and stories read by local luminaries, such as broadcaster Lloyd Robertson. Refreshments will be provided. Ticket proceeds will support the Bluffs Food Bank. Birchcliff Bluffs United Church. 7:30 p.m.

  • Dec 17. Short Reads Book Club. If books that are hundreds of pages long aren’t your thing, join the club! This group gathers once a month to discuss short, interesting reads. Registration is required; call 416-396-8970 to sign up. Malvern library. 6 to 7 p.m.

Spotlight

Shaina Agbayani (left) and Bennette Baguisa (centre) at Scarborough Discourse’s first Story Circle in late November.

Shaina Agbayani and Bennette Baguisa first met in summer 2017 at a free Filipina women’s theatre program hosted by the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture in downtown Toronto. They were surprised to run into each other again at Bizstart Entrepreneurship, a six-month training program run by Youth Employment Services that assists young people in starting a business. Shaina and Bennette decided to collaborate since they both wanted to launch a Scarborough-based project. 

Their dream? To create a space that nurtures wellness and creativity in Scarborough, while also centring the experiences of women and people of colour. The two friends’ desire to serve marginalized communities through art and practices such as yoga, meditation and acupuncture is rooted in their own lived experiences.

“Yoga changed my life in many great ways. I’m visualizing a space in Scarborough where I can share my passion for yoga and meditations,” Bennette says. As she lives with her aunts and grandparents, Bennette also wants to encourage intergenerational dialogue in the space: “There’s lots of learning that goes on in these conversations — learning for [the older generation], too.”

Meanwhile, Shaina wants to incorporate gardening into their programs that focus on connecting with the body. “Ideally, there will be some space in the backyard to grow plants and medicine,” she says. “We are asking people if they know of spaces like this in Scarborough, to get in touch with us.”

The duo is hosting a kickoff event at Bennette’s house, called Femmeifestation: Creation Stories at the End of the World, which takes place on Dec. 15 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more info or to register, email rooting.care@gmail.com.

 

 

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