Jane and Finch

Mention Jane and Finch to anyone in Toronto and immediate associations with violence are made. There are some tough streets in this northwest part of the city but the truth is violence happens everywhere in and around TO. Seems the residents and leaders of Jane and Finch are tired of the stereotype and want to turn things around, which is why I was so surprised to see a recent post in blogTO's youTube group with a gun as its icon, hiphop as its soundtrack and images that perpetuate and idealize the 'thug lifestyle'. The creator at one point cuts in a photo of a friend, with the letters RIP across the screen, whom I can only imagine because of the context died in some violent way. Yet the piece continues to show these Jane and Finch 'Hoolagoons' proudly flashing guns stashed down their pants.

There's a way to stop the violence and it's definitely not with more gunfire.

CBC's The Fifth Estate on at 10pm tonight features a doc called Lost In The Struggle about what it's like for three guys growing up in the area. "The stories that unfold are of struggle: to succeed when poverty, lack of education and opportunity pull you down; to escape from the only life you've known; and to make positive choices in the face of anger and aimlessness." Kudos to the broadcaster for bringing some of the Jane and Finch boys onto their crew to help tell the story.

Just to round this out with my own experience...a few years back my car died a block from the infamous intersection. Up walks a tall dreadlocked dude who offered his assistance. Without CAA or cell phone I took him up on the offer and followed him back to his place to grab some tools. About an hour later, after he got under my car and banged away at my "Cadillac convertor" I was on my way home, spewing fumes and making a whole lotta noise but thankful someone with a great smile and a kind heart was there when I needed it. A couple weeks later my new buddy and I were drinking champagne at a hopping Sunnyside party. So I'll be the first to let people know Jane and Finch isn't the frightening place everyone thinks, even if a couple of gun-totting kids are trying to exploit its reputation for a little online celeb status.

(image: sappletown)

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