The Regent Park Centre of Learning was formally inaugurated last week. Leading community and educational luminaries came to offer their congratulations and support to this well-attended landmark event.
In attendance were Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University; Anne Sado, president of George Brown College and Professor Cheryl Regehr, vice provost of the University of Toronto.
Prior to the Community Dialogue, the Regent Park Centre of Learning was inaugurated with a ribbon cutting ceremony presided over by City Councillor Pam McConnell, Martin Blake of Daniels’ Corporation and John Fox of Toronto Community Housing.
“When I first came across this space, it was just a little box in the building,” said Toronto Community Housing vice-president of development John Fox.
“I asked what it was going to be and was told there was an idea of making it into a learning hub. Now it’s a reality – a brand new hub for learning in Regent Park.”
Councillor Pam McConnell, recalled her early days in the community as a local teacher 35 years ago, and said that the said the RPCL is the culmination of a long-standing dream for the community.
McConnell explained that while the focus in the past was to help educate local youth, she was aware of the need to provide adult education in the community.
After years of residents agitating for change, McConnell said the RPCL would provide more opportunities for all.
“This centre is the spirit, or the heart, of Regent Park and it is the key to what will make Regent Park work,” she said
To kick off its formal opening, the Regent Park Centre of Learning at 540 Dundas St. East (at Sackville), hosted what the organization hopes will be an ongoing series called “Community Dialogue”.
The initial dialogue was titled “Creating a Healthy Community,” and was moderated by O’Neil Edwards from Ryerson University.
Guest panelists included: MPP Glen Murray (Toronto Centre), Councillor Pam McConnell (Toronto Centre), Martin Blake (Vice President-Daniels Corp.), Rahul K. Bhardwaj (Pres & CEO-Toronto Community Foundation), Ken Greenberg (Architect/Urban Designer), and Jason Creed (Pathways to Education).
“The Community Dialogue is envisioned as a space that brings together thinkers, community workers, academics, residents, professionals, newcomers; a broad cross-section of our diverse city and neighbourhood, to share vital ideas about the potential and possibilities for building a truly revitalized Regent Park,” explained Alfred Jean-Baptiste, Executive Director of Toronto Centre for Community Learning & Development.
This Community Dialogue is organized by the Centre’s lead agency, Toronto Centre for Community Learning & Development, and its partners: University of Toronto, Ryerson University and George Brown College. The Centre is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Daniels Corporation and the Toronto Community Housing.
-Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla