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Great conversation took place at Courtland-Shelley during the Annual Community BBQ. It was also the 20th anniversary of this 69 unit housing complex with a lot of young families. The neighbourhood is very diverse with many new and old Canadian families.
Under the shade of trees in the community centre square, 8 women got together to discuss and share stories about their neighbourhood.
· Why is it important that I am here today?
It is important for many to attend neighbourhood and community events in order to show solidarity and the importance of community. At these events, many people meet their neighbours and spend some time together, relaxing and having fun, which is much needed in such a busy world. People get to find out what their neighbours are doing, who is in their family and really increase neighbourhood safety.
· What is a great memory that you have from this neighbourhood
The Courtland-Shelley community hosts an annual community BBQ, and has become a valued tradition in the neighbourhood. The meeting of different neighbours over food and drinks making small talk is a very important aspect to community building. This tradition serves as a great and dear memory to all in the community.
The community centre’s after-school programs as a one of the best memories in the community. The community members have a great appreciation and support for these programs like the summer programs, homework help and reading buddies. The support the women receive from their community centre helps ease the day to day burden, and strengthens their community as well. The school and homework help is very important for their children.
Christmas is also a beloved time of year for the community. There is a community potluck with various sweets for dessert and present giving for all. The best part of the evening is that everyone has a chance to pick their own gift from the pile of presents. That way everyone feels happy and excited as a child during the festive season. It is very valuable that the centre makes it easy for all to partake in the holiday season.
· What does a healthy neighbourhood mean to you?
A healthy neighbourhood means getting along with each other and building a strong community. There are no fights among the little ones and there is a peaceful coexistence among neighbours.
· Why is your neighbourhood important to you?
Neighbourhood is important because to the women because it is where they live.
“We like to have a peaceful place, with our families—a place where it is clean, nice and safe for the kids.” Safety and security are very important. “Knowing that the place you live in is a good place to live.”
· Where do you experience community in your neighbourhood? If there was one place you really feel that you come together as a community?
The community centre is a very important aspect to the community. It is the place where all group members agreed that connects everyone in the neighbourhood as a community. It is where the women feel that the spirit of being a community unites them. All their needs and concerns are met there. There are classes, programs for children and more. “It’s a family meeting, [a] neighbourhood meeting.” There is a great pride in being there to support each other in the community. Even other friends and peers from different communities, travel down to Courtland-Shelley for the programs and the connection with other neighbours.
· How can you deepen your feeling of connection in this neighbourhood? And how can you deepen your feeling of connection in this neighbourhood?
The feeling of connection can be deepened by the neighbourhood working together and joining all the meeting that happen in the community. The more involved neighbours become, the more integrated into the community they will feel. There are a lot of good programs that are running in the community and support from neighbours is always welcome.
Why do you think people still don’t come to the community centre to partake in programs, what keeps them away?
As for community members who don’t or have never attended any programs in the community, the group came up with a solution. Many people “don’t know what going on, I think as a community” someone offered. This was met with resounding agreement from many members of the conversation. Another even shared the story of her neighbour who cannot attend due to taking care of her very young one. The intention is there to come to the events but due to family, work and other engagements, it is hard for them to follow through.
How do you think that can be fixed? How do you think the neighbourhood can change it around, in order to reach out to the people who are at work or, have health issues?
Personal outreach seems to have a big impact on the community. On the morning of the community BBQ, students who were on placement at the community centre, knocked from door-to-door reminding and inviting community members to the event. The members of the group felt that the reminders played a big role in the great turnout at the event. This would help bring out more support to the community programs assure the group members; not only is it a good reminder, it’s also a very nice personal invitation that assures that each neighbour matters in the community.