My Parent’s Happiness
Immigrant families, belonging, family, opportunity
“I would describe Regent Park as a place that is not easy to know. Regular methods of outreach don’t work here, partly due to language, mistrust, and exploitation by business people.”
— Vanessa Ling Yu
Working with Kenyan women during a large community event in the community kitchen in the Daniels Spectrum is one of Vanessa’s fondest memories in Regent Park. “We were praying, singing, cooking and there were kids all over the kitchen” she recalls. Growing up as a child and youth she was also often in the kitchen, helping at her parents Chinese-Canadian restaurant in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. While her parents spent much of their time working to get their restaurant up and running, Vanessa lived with her grandmother in Toronto, and as an adult she has also lived in many urban centres, including Brighton (UK), Zagreb, and various places in the United States. She admits that she has rarely wanted to put down roots anywhere to avoid the pain of having to sever local ties, but shares that Regent Park is somewhere where she has considered planting her roots. Vanessa moved to the community in 2013 and says that “people just care and look out for each other here.” In addition to living in the neighbourhood, Vanessa has worked on a number of local projects related to anti-violence initiatives her catering business, caterToronto. In the audio clip Vanessa recalls the challenges she experienced competing for her father’s time and attention and the ways in which the expectations placed on immigrant children have shaped her identity. She also talks about the tendency to focus local place-based opportunities on youth, to the detriment of other populations who would equally benefit.