More than 200 people shared a meal for Canada Day, 2021 – although they did so in the home or an outdoor spot of their own choosing.
JunCtian Community Initiatives succeeded in getting funded for a COVID-adapted July 1 celebration.
The group organized an online program, similar to the format of its monthly Zoom concerts. That was followed by a time where people could pick up meals that they had registered for in advance.
JunCtian wanted to keep the celebration focused on this community and its meal providers were: the Junction restaurant (similarity in name purely co-incidence!); the new Common Grounds Cafe; Main Street Pizza and available for pick-up inside the pizza place – jerk chicken or BBQ chicken by a Dundalk chef, Joel Pennant.
The Canada Day program was a hybrid with both online and real-life performers and speakers, organized from outside the McIntyre building in Dundalk.
Co-hosts were Barbara Dobreen (a Southgate councillor) and Kwadwo Adusei, an educator, who has been involved with JunCtian in its roots in Brampton and Mississauga.
Despite technical challenges (familiar to us all), the program included moving reflections, gratitude for Canada and hopes for a better future together.
One performer who shared her own story of change and growth as an artist and person was an artist formerly known as Jane from Finch.
Although Latoya James started as a rapper, lacking confidence in her vocal talents as she did in other areas of life, encouragement from others helped her try new things. She share a couple songs with those watching, evidence to her confidence and talent.
Ms James earned a social work diploma and works with young people now to let the know about the danger of the streets.
She told a story of taking the TTC recently and trying to handle a stroller – how a stranger couldn’t be put off “she just had to help us.”
“That’s my Canada,” she said, “and it doesn’t matter what the race – everybody eats every single food.”
Laughing, she said of herself and the D.J. - “we came from Jane and Finch and we’re in Dundalk.”
Other performers included Warden Selwyn Hicks’s 12-year-old daughter, Chloe, who sang the national anthem.
The time opened with a statement from Joan John and a moment of reflection on the history of First Nations and their treatment by the Canadian government.
Alex Ruff, MP, brought greetings. He said there is much to celebrate in the country’s history but added “We need to reflect on who we are and who we aspire to be.”
MPP Bill Walker put in an appearance in a Montreal Canadiens jersey.
The warden, who was born in Guyana, spoke about how grateful he was for so many new people moving into the community. “We have a long way to go,” he said, before all can enjoy the good things that the country has to offer.
Other performers included Debbie BeChamp and Peter Kommisar from Southgate, Paige Warner and Tess, a grade 11 student.
Mayor John Woodbury spoke on behalf of Southgate.
The Herald spoke to people on the street who were enjoying the sunny day as went from shop to shop picking up the pieces of their meal.
“It’s good to do what you can right now,” said Andy Chrzanowski, a Melancthon resident who works at the Home Hardware. It was a real family occasion, as he was there with his wife Sarah, their daughters and Andy’s parents Carol and Alex of Dundalk.
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald