In case you missed this column by Samuel Getachew in today’s Toronto Sun…
Does Little Ethiopia Belong On The Danforth?
I don’t usually like big mega cities, like New York. However Toronto is an exception.
Toronto, a city I admire, has always been full of characters, or much like the way former prime minister Joe Clark envisioned Canada in his successful 1979 election — a community of communities.
The Greektown on Danforth, Chinatown around Dundas West and Spadina Avenue, Korea town on Bloor in the Annex are some of the areas that attract thousands of tourists on a yearly basis.
On top of all of these, festivals such as Caribana, Taste of the Danforth, the Toronto Film Festival and Luminato helps us attract lots of people and resources to the city. Greektown alone claims to have more than 1 million visitors yearly.
These areas help us showcase the rich diversity of our city, not just in words but in deeds.
That is why a few friends and myself are asking the City of Toronto to name a section of Danforth Ave. around Greenwood Ave. as Little Ethiopia.
The history of Ethiopian Canadians, especially in the Toronto Danforth area, is new.
Ethiopians are one of the many groups of new immigrants to have fled successive broken governments and settled in Toronto. But what makes Canada different than most countries is we can be passionate citizens without losing sight of our heritage.
Earlier this year, a few of us met with the Toronto Danforth Mosaic BIA for about 30 minutes about our idea for Little Ethiopia. We spoke about our hope and dream for our city. They spoke of a multicultural mosaic they wanted to create in the area, one that is not a ghettoized neighbourhood, and rejected the idea.
Along the Danforth from around Greenwood to Monarch Park, there are about 16 Ethiopian Canadian businesses and their contribution is very visible. We are owners and tenants of the many buildings found in the area.
However, we lack visibility in our area BIAs, activities and at City Hall.
Governments can do much to help connect us to the area and have us take ownership of the areas we frequent. To clean it more, make it lovely like Greektown, and above all take ownership of it.
To have us believe in our BIA’s enough for us to join its boards and volunteer at the different activities in the community. The idea of Little Ethiopia is of celebration and not of ghettoization.
Greektown, Chinatown and the many areas named after a certain country or countries are not ghettos but a celebration of global citizenship.
As a Torontonian and as a black person, I get my hair cut in the heart of Greektown, buy the best and the cheapest Italian beef in Chinatown and go for the best coffee in Little Italy at College and Clinton.
Almost always the people I see are diverse in their representation from every country on the planet.
That is the wish for our aspiring Little Ethiopia on Danforth project — that of many cultures and a recognition of the Ethiopian Canadian experience.
We are not tourists to Canada but citizens of an awesome country.
I believe Little Ethiopia can be a start.
We are a very small group pushing forward this idea with the hope of thousands.
Our effort is no longer an Ethiopian story but that of a Canadian: Passion, youthful vigour and hard work — the hallmark of what makes me a proud Canadian.
— Getachew is a member of the Ethiopian community in Toronto and is running for council in Scarborough