Piecing Together Our Peace: Mobilizing for Community Safety in St. James Town with Collage-Making

Key Terms: art-making; collage; community safety; dialogue; mental health; youth

Lead: Mehdia Hassan

About the Project

Funded by the City of Toronto’s Violence Reduction Grant, and in partnership with Toronto Community Housing, this community-engaged program used art-making and knowledge-sharing as effective modes of building and sustaining community safety in the Toronto neighbourhood of St. James Town. In a series of six weekly, virtual workshops during the COVID-19 pandemic, St. James Town youth learned about the topics of navigating community violence and mental health from guest speakers; this was followed by the creation of original mixed-media collages about community safety in St. James Town. Youth gained important resources and knowledge about how they can advocate for themselves in encounters with the police, as well as with coping from the violence they witness in the St. James Town neighbourhood. The program allowed racialized youth to use their collages to generate meaningful dialogues about what community safety in St. James Town should look like, from residents’ perspectives, and expand neighbourhood safety support networks.