New group wants to work with youth to help all feel at home

·2 min read

Joan John wants to work with other groups in Dundalk and area on building a community where everyone feels included.

She stresses that her organization, called JunCtian Community Initiatives, doesn’t want to duplicate anything that’s already being done by others.

The group accomplished a lot in its years in Brampton. But when Ms John saw more and more youth walking the streets in her new home, she thought the time was right for another chapter.

Ms John is the president and CEO and there are a total of three staff in Dundalk. While many present board members are connections from the city, when their two-year terms are up, she’s hoping for local replacements.

JunCtian in Dundalk was federally incorporated in June is a separate non-profit.

“The only thing we’re bringing is the ideas, the experience and the knowledge,” she said.

People moving from north of Toronto are used to having more services available, and she’s hoping to fill that gap.

Three initiatives the energetic president wants to see launched as soon as possible are a vocal performance program, a spoken word “poetry slam” workshop and youth counselling. All of these would be adapted to fit current meeting restrictions and incorporate online aspects.

At the end, the youth would be recognized with a certificate, a digital copy of their performance and would be invited to mentor the next group.

The path from there depends on local needs and what might be missing on the local landscape.

“You need different programs for different people,” Ms John said. “It’s not one size fits all.”

JunCtian wants to make sure that programs are available for all, but diversity for Joan John means that existing residents are welcome in its programs.

In Brampton, those included programs related to job skills, as well as those empowering youth to grow in self-confidence and in thinking of others. Some other programs were about awareness of other cultures.

“It’s not an organization for people of colour, it’s open to anybody,” she said.

She laughs about teaching local residents patois, while making the serious point that cultural barriers can cause mistrust. Signals get crossed easily, and that’s why the JunCtian wants to bring people from different backgrounds together.

Southgate CAO Dave Milliner told township council at a recent meeting that he thinks “the JunCtian has a big role to play.”

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald