Block by Block took place on Sunday, September 24, in one of Canada’s oldest immigrant neighbourhoods, Strathcona, Vancouver. The Block Party explored how immigrants managed to find a sense of belonging in Canada and engaged the local community in conversations about what it means to be a new settler in Canada and how Canadian neighbourhoods welcomes immigrants.
Block by Block took place at the Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer St., featuring multimedia profiles documenting local migration stories. It is part of the work being carried out by the Toronto Ward Museum, a community-engaged museum that facilitates the preservation and sharing of personal stories of migrants in Toronto’s history and creates forums for dialogue relevant to migration, citizenship and pluralism within an urban context. The event happened simultaneously in St. John’s Ward in Toronto and Cote-des-neiges in Montreal.
Their youth research team interviewed a diverse range of Strathcona community members to learn more about the immigrant experience in this neighbourhood. Some grew up in Strathcona and left by choice as adults. Others were forcibly displaced from the area. Some have made their lives in the community, while others yet have only recently arrived. Between them, they remember many pivotal moments in Strathcona’s history: The ongoing displacement of First Nations residents; the internment and consequent displacement of Japanese-Canadian residents during WWII; The razing of Hogan’s Alley, Vancouver’s first Black neighbourhood, in the name of a freeway and urban renewal; the historic fight of the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association (SPOTA) against those same urban renewal plans; and, more recently, Strathcona and Chinatown’s struggles with gentrification. They also remember local sports teams, community programs, festivals, friendships and alliances with pride. (Courtesy of PCHC, photo by Ms. Jane Wu)