7 News Archive
Workshops airs youth problems

By Ulli Diemer

Seven News, April 23, 1977

About 100 people came together at an all-day workshop on youth and agency problems in Regent Park April 6 [1977].

Called by the Regent Park Community Improvement Association (RPCIA), the workshop brought together a large group of representatives from the social agencies that do work in Regent Park, as well as a handful of Regent residents.

The Conference was concerned with two main things: communication among the various agencies and residents, and employment and recreational prospects for young people in Regent Park.

Opening the conference was RPCIA secretary Myrna Marston who spoke about the history of racial problems in Regent Park, which made a big splash in the media last summer. She charged that the police and the Regent Park security force had been slow in responding to such incidents, adding to feeling of distrust towards them in Regent Park. Social Agencies, she said, were also not trusted by many residents, with a few exceptions. She called on the agency people present to change their ways if they were to be relevant to the concerns of Regent Park people.

Her comments were followed by a slide and tape presentation featuring three Regent Park youths, who talked about the problems they experienced with school, finding and keeping jobs, lack of recreation facilities, and the various social agencies that they encountered.

Ward 7 school trustee and school board chairman Doug Barr followed with a keynote address in which he concluded that “if agencies aren’t part of the of the solution they’re part of the problem.”

Nevertheless, Barr, as well as all the other agency people present, seemed to proceed from the assumption that their particular agency was part of the solution – no one admitted to being part of the problem, despite the tape played earlier, in which the Regent Park youths seemed to be saying that the agencies they knew were part of the problem.

In the workshops and the concluding plenary, the conference participants agreed to set up a “communications network” among the agency people, to meet every other Wednesday. People from a number of different groups said they would take part, including people from welfare, OHC, the library, public health, Donald Macdonald’s and Margaret Scrivener’s offices, Central Neighbourhood Housing, Salvation Army, Red Cross, the United Church, Manpower and the police, the schools, and the Board of Education. Many of the same groups are also represented at other regular inter-agency meetings, such as the Youth Services Network, and the Don District Community Services Network. However, meetings of the new network will focus strictly on Regent Park, and will also include representatives from RPCIA and Regent Park unit reps.

Published in Seven News, Volume 7, Number 21, 23 April, 1977

Related topics: Black Youth
Community Services/Children & Youth
Race Relations
Regent Park
Social Services
Youth Employment/Unemployment