The Regent Park Revitalization is about more than just new buildings, a reality that was brought home at a celebration of some of the training and employment initiatives that have come about.
The event, which took place at Paintbox Bistro, highlighted the partnership between Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS), Dixon Hall, Paintbox and local colleges and universities and the impact that partnership has had on Regent Park residents.
“We have developed a network of community and corporate partners that are collectively and collaboratively working to build a strong and vibrant Regent Park,” said Charmaine Duller, director of TESS for Regent Park.
Duller pointed to the Higher Learning Initiative, a partnership between TESS, the University of Toronto and the Daniels Corporation, that looks to meet the career needs of internationally trained professionals and the Mill Centre Pre-Apprenticeship Carpentry Program, which TESS runs together with Dixon Hall and Carpenters’ Union Local 27.
“A number of Regent Park residents have been taking part in these two exciting education and training initiatives,” she said.
Dr. Mahbub Hasan, who benefited from the Higher Learning Initiative, spoke of his difficulties in landing a job when he first came to Canada from Bangladesh, and the stress and uncertainty it caused him.
“Think of a person who used to work 12 hours a day almost, (who was) now unemployed,” he said. “The amount of support I received from (the program), that relieved my high blood pressure. That relieved my stress.”
Hasan is now working as a faculty member at Centennial College and is continuing his education at U of T. He is also planning on taking a return trip to Bangladesh to apply his new skills to the non-profit sector there.
“I’m not limiting my skills only for sharing with my students and my community fellows, but also I’m accountable to my community when I started my journey,” he said.
Mill Centre Pre-Apprenticeship Carpentry graduate Janelle Richards noted the program has been a valuable step in breaking a cycle of dead-end jobs.
“I was not good at fixing things and I probably would have won Canada’s Worst Handyman,” she said. “When I met with representatives from Carpenters Local 27, Dixon Hall and Regent Park Employment Services, I realized there were so many opportunities and there was so much support out there.”
Richards and the other Mill Centre grads received their certificates at the ceremony, marking the next step on their road to fulfilling careers.
Martin Blake of the Daniels Corporation pointed out that a major component of the Regent Park Revitalization was to improve more than just the housing stock.
Since the revitalization began, more than 650 jobs have been created in the community.
He pointed out creating jobs is only a beginning, however.
“The best part of these employment initiatives is that they go beyond the point of simply creating a job,” he said. “They foster skills and develop leadership and most of all they create a career path for people.”
For more information on Regent Park Employment Services, visit www.toronto.ca/ourtoronto/fall2010/servicesforresidents/article07.utf8.htm