Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re studying at UofT?
I am a 3rd-year student studying Urban Studies and Human Geography. I was born and raised in Toronto and love the city! In my spare time, I love working out, cooking, exploring Toronto, and traveling to other cities. I am especially interested in the social issues that cities experience with an emphasis on wealth inequality and access to resources in planning design.
What drew you to the Urban Studies Program?
I was drawn to the Urban Studies Program during my summer internship at Homeless Youth Shelter and ended up switching my minor because I liked it so much! Growing up in Parkdale, I interacted with the city's social fabric heavily and watched as gentrification moved in. I was very interested in the stories that residents, old and new immigrants had about their individual experiences with the city of Toronto. The inequality that I saw in Parkdale, followed by gentrification is what got me interested in studying the city itself.
What did you learn by working on the newsletter this past year?
Working on the newsletter this past year has been an amazing experience and has taught me so much. In the beginning, I found the task a little daunting, but with Professor Brail and Jannie Chien's support, I was able to learn so much about newsletter-style announcements which honed my research skills. I learned so much about the Urban Studies Program through engaging with our professors' monthly spotlights, and discovered so many useful tools that I didn't know Innis College even had! What I enjoyed most though, was the ability to create something that would be useful to other students and faculty.
What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Toronto, and why?
My favourite Toronto neighbourhood has to be Parkdale. My parents own and operate a small business there, so growing up I really got to know the community and local businesses. The resilience that the residents of Parkdale have has always surprised me. The neighbourhood is a dichotomy of large elegant houses from the early 20th century, and recent immigrants crammed into one-bedroom apartments along Jameson Avenue. It is sandwiched between High Park and Liberty Village - both of which today are high known as high-income areas of Toronto, but Parkdale has still managed to hold some semblance of autonomy. Whether it be through rent strikes and community-based initiatives. I personally think it has the best example of community engagement and organization in Toronto.
Simran was hired through the U of T Work Study program. The USP would like to thank Simran for her hard work and dedication in developing our monthly newsletter this year.