Marijuana and the North East London Community

As Ontario gears up for the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, the community of North East London is gearing up too, with more dispensaries setting up shop and more clinics taking hold city wide. Now, news has been released that London will among the first group of cities in Ontario to get standalone pot shops as soon as recreational cannabis is legalized on 1st July.

Finding A Location

The Ministry of Finance and the LCBO have got together the identify the first fourteen municipalities to house the LCBO run stores. In south west Ontario, London was added to the list together with Windsor and Kitchener, and while the store locations have not yet been selected, meetings will take place with the selected municipalities over the weeks to come to discuss possible areas. Once a location has been selected, there will be a public notice posted both at the site itself and online, allowing the public the opportunity to ask any questions about the site before the official confirmation is made.

The government have said that they do not intend to house stores close to local schools, but the aim is to provide greater access to marijuana within communities while addressing the illegal markets. There are plans to set up around 150 standalone stores by 2020, with 80 of that number being opened before July 2019. Further municipalities will then be identified as time goes on.

London Leading The Way In Distributing Recreational Marijuana

Ontario holds the honor of being the first province which announced a detailed outline of distributing and selling recreational cannabis, setting the legal purchasing age at 19 years. Legislation was introduced in April by the Federal government with the aim of regulating and legalizing the use of recreational marijuana by 1st July 2018, however individual provinces have been allowed to design a system of distribution for their own use as well as their own regulations regarding usage. Ontario will not be permitting the consumption of cannabis in any workplace or public space and have declared that its use should solely be confined to private homes.

The upshot of this is that London, and its North Eastern community are at the forefront of the new recreational marijuana revolution, and it is already set to have a beneficial effect on the area and its residents. Leading the way in the sale and distribution of cannabis, London’s locals are already seeing the benefits with jobs and industry heading their way, and further economical advantages on the horizon. As new stores are set to open up in the community, it is highly likely that further cannabis-related businesses will also start to set up shop, and opportunities will present themselves for local entrepreneurs who are ready to harness the potential of the burgeoning industry.

Locals will also have a greater breadth of choice when it comes to buying their weed, with the option of going to a local standalone store or of buying online from a company like Green Panther, a Canadian marijuana dispensary.


On Saturday, November 30th, about 1,000 residents and friends came together to celebrate the grand opening of one of Northeast London’s hidden gems – the Carling-Thames Family Centre, located at 335 Belfield Street.

Sharing Our Story - Sharing Our HistorySharing Our Story - Sharing Our HistoryThe Family Centre is designed to make life easier for

Resident Family all families (particularly those with children 0-12 years old) by offering a single door to the many opportunities in one’s neighbourhood and city. It is part of the Child & Youth Network’s London-wide plan to develop 40 Family Centres across our forest city.

YMCA's Community Developer Arden McClean and Director-Educational Services Jo-elle RinkerThe YMCA of Western Ontario is the lead agency for the Carling-Thames Family Centre and works with the City of London, area service agencies, resident groups, and individuals, to provide the community with information, programs, activities and resources.

Local youth enjoying the eventOrganizing and planning such a large scale event is no easy feat – especially when resident community leaders, of diverse backgrounds, are called upon to lend their skills, expertise and talents to ensure a successful event.

Coordinator Carolyn InnisEvent Coordinators, Carolyn and Charles Innis, worked with volunteers from local resident groups, schools and neighbourhoods to make it happen.  After forming three distinct working teams, each team member put their best foot forward, primarily for one reason – to show their pride and love for their community!

Food galoreEven local area restaurants stepped up, without hesitation, to support the event by preparing and donating food and drinks to the event.Community Residents and Friends jamming on stage

Several performers loaned their talents and cultural gifts of music, song and dance. Service providers conducted activities for the young which allowed guests to learn about the many programs and activities offered at the Family Centre, and in the community.

Representatives from the City, Community and Residents cut cake!Of course, like any grand opening, we could not do without acknowledging and thanking London’s City Council and City Hall staff for their continued support for the growth and development of our Northeast neighbourhoods.Mayor Fontana with the peopleMayor Joe Fontana even took time out of his Saturday to be present, to “officially” open the Centre.

Watching stage performancesTo give you a sense of the magnitude of the event’s richness, the scope of the skills and talents shared, the generosity of our volunteers, supporters, and all who were involved in the preparation and organization of this wonderful, well organized event, let’s give thanks and acknowledge all who helped make this event AWESOME!


Some of the many NELCE members who were on hand to helpNELCE member Agatha Quadros busy serving foodNELCE MembersThe good folks of Northeast London Community Engagement [NELCE] must be thanked for their excellent work as our food services team. A great deal of heart, and thought was put into the dishes served, and their dedication enhanced the event’s success immensely.

Popcorn anyone?Also, special thanks to Jack McKillop of Kipps Lane & Community, who is a man of all trades.Fern Patterson, resident & Kipps Lane & Community Chair Aside from acting as an event courier, Jack helped move desks and tables from the stage, and helped out wherever there was a need.

One of our Greeters, AndyWe would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the custodial staff at the Northbrae Public School, and the Carling-Thames Family Centre, for keeping things clean and safe.  Playing GOOf course, many measures were in place to help ensure the safety of all attendees, and we would like to say thank you to all of the Greeters, and Area Monitors, with a special thanks going to Angela, our designated first aid responder.

Adina Innis belting out a wonderful songGrooving to the beat!The Grand Opening was full of so many special moments, with much forethought put into making it inter-generational, capacity building, entertaining, and up-lifting.


It was wonderful to see the spectacular dancers from O.N.E. Hip Hop Dance Studio, Dynamic Dozen, Fierce Flava, the Nepalese Community and Karen Community, joining The Beacock Line Dancers and Suzie as they demonstrated how easy and fun it is to line dance.

Dynamic Dozen strut their stuff!Karin Dancers

Once the gauntlet had been thrown down, nothing could stop Suzanne Walker-Stewart and her team of Line Dancers from reciprocating, busting their best moves during the Hip Hop dance workshop, to the delight of a packed audience.


Clarinet player Charles Innis


Additional thanks to The Big Picture, Genevieve Labbe, concertina player Tim Oliver, guitarist Douglas GillespieYan Hou who played the Guzheng, a Chinese plucked zither instrument, and gifted singer Adina Innis for bringing beautiful music to the event.”

Carolyn commented, “In making rounds, we left the backstage crew, and visited Joe, Leah, Denise, Ann, Deb, Gord, Sue, Bernardine, Agatha,Jenny, Jerome, Reda, Claudia and Erlinda, in the bustling food services area. Everyone was working through multiple constraints & challenges, all the while maintaining the professional spirit that gives potency to the words “The Show Must Go On!”FCCT volunteers serving food

“We stepped back out into the hallway, and found ourselves flanked by some of the event’s local business contributors. Those Garlic Fingers from Domino’s Pizza were pretty tasty, and a Starbucks coffee was certainly in order” Carolyn continued.  “CupcakesIt was very gracious of several businesses at Northland Mall to come together in such a strong demonstration of support for the community.

Tremendous thanks also go out to Kelsey’s East, Pizza Hut, Mo Mo’s from the Western Fair Market, Dooly’s Middle Eastern Food, Thuan Kieu Vietnamese Restaurant,Vegway, Metro, Pet Paradise (for gift certificates to give away), Home Hardware, Jumbo Video, Huron House Restaurant, and all of the people who came out to sample their fares and wares.”Tim and Douglas playing

Play time“Every sector of the community came together on this magical day, and it really did convey a beautiful sense of unity in diversity!” stated Charles, noting that, “Behind all of the hard work, and passionate participation, was a planning team which comprised many kind-hearted, dynamic, and dedicated community stakeholders.”NELCE member Mo Salih with Karen DancersOur Story

The Northeast Community would be remiss if we did not offer our sincere thanks and gratitude to the following people, groups and organizations, who helped put this event together:

  • Bethany & Tony Mejia for the historical ”East of Adelaide” display
  • Fern Patterson and Mark Rose, Kipps Lane & Community
  • Jacqueline Fraser, Northeast London Community Engagement
  • Christine Smith, Resident
  • Will Graham, Neon Crab Tattoos & Piercing
  • Maria Forte, Beacock Branch Library
  • Liz Hicks, Childreach
  • Elisabete Rodrigues and Meaghan Warwick, LUSO
  • Claudette Andress, The Family Centre YMCA
  • Yasika Jarquin, Merrymount Children’s Centre
  • Janice Hamilton, The City of London
  • Yasmin Hussain, The Memorial Boys and Girls Club
  • and the Staff of the Carling-Thames Family Centre – Arden McClean, Teresa Wilson, Kate Burton, Patricia Winiarczyk and Theresa Reavely.

Activities for ToddlersMany organizations had staff members enthusiastically helping in the various activity spaces. Elementary and high school students from Catholic Central, Hillcrest, Northbrae, Sir John A. MacDonald, Evelyn Harrison, Lord Elgin, Bishop Townshend, John Paul II, Montcalm, A.B. Lucas, and Knollwood Parkdemonstrated their leadership skills in their roles as community ambassadors.Craft time

Playing with a truckWhen attending community events Karen Dancers share their cultural heritagelike this, it is always comforting to see the delight on children’s faces enjoying the many activities, smell the aromas of multicultural foods, feel the energetic vibes of the volunteers, sense the beauty and inclusiveness of community spirit and taste success in our area of London!  What a great way to reaffirm our passion and love for our Northeast community!


Last night at the London Convention Centre, about 700 people from the non-profit, government, military and volunteer sectors got together to celebrate – COMMUNITY!

After a wonderful cocktail hour with live music and lots to eat and drink (cash bar), everyone sat down at 7:45pm to watch and witness 12 finalists – 3 in each of the four categories:

  1. Community Innovation,
  2. Community Leadership,
  3. Community Impact, and
  4. Community Collaboration

walk across the stage to receive a beautiful (and heavy) engraved glass plaque with scallop edging, recognizing that they had been selected as a Award Finalist in this year’s Pillar Community Innovation Awards.  NELCE, one of three finalist in the COMMUNITY IMPACT category, was represented by Leah Blenkhorn, Gord Johnston and yours truly.

Pillar Community Impact Award FinalistA little backstory…..Michelle Hurtubise, Executive Director of London Intercommunity Health Centre, submitted a nomination package for NELCE in May 2017.  Nomination applications  were reviewed in July by a Selection Committee.  Then, in August, the 12 finalists were informed confidentially, via phone, of their selection, and invited to attend a press conference to announce the results of the nominations process.  Making the live announcementFor the first time, Pillar made announced the results to the public LIVE  via their website.

Pillar Announcement re 2013 Finalist - 1In the two months leading up to last night’s amazing and well planned event, each finalist, including NELCE, was given the privilege and several opportunities to “tell our story – share; inspire; and be recognized” for our contributions to society and to the London community.

Pillar Nonprofit NetworkThanks to Pillar, NELCE has had the amazing opportunity to create awareness and introduce ourselves to London through The Londoner, Rogers TV and Facebook.

Now, back to the evening….Emcee Janet Frood opened the formal part of the evening.  Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director of Pillar Non-Profit Network, welcomed everyone to this year’s gala event and gave an address.  Then a representative from this event’s Platinum Sponsor for seven years, Libro Financial Group, addressed the crowd.

By 8:25pm, Emcee Janet started to introduce the first of the four Award categories.  Brief video clips, shown of each of the finalist by category, told the story of the nominee, who nominated them or supported the nomination and why.  The winner in each award category was then announced by one of the event’s Gold Sponsors: 3M, Rogers TV, or Corus Entertainment, and Libro Financial Group, and the winners came up to receive their trophy and say a few words.

Congratulations to the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support & Integration [MRCSSI] on receiving the Award for Community Impact.  The organization’s main focus is to ensure all members of the Muslim and Arabic communities have professional support and advocacy. This includes helping families sort through complex issues related to immigration, cultural differences and violence. The agency has also developed resources that help mainstream service providers understand and respond to the diverse needs of their clients.  Well done!  Well Deserved!  NELCE is proud to have been selected as a finalist in this category with MRCSSI and WOTCH’s Impact Junk Solutions.

The winners in the other categories are:

  • Community Innovation – Project Play
  • Community Leadership: Kate Ballagh Steeper
  • Community Collaboration – Youth Opportunities Unlimited and Meals On Wheels

And what did NELCE walk away with?  Great PRIDE, JOY, HONOUR, and AFFIRMATION that we are doing good things, right things, and bringing positive change to our Northeast London community.  Those of us at the event were humbled by the many, many groups of volunteers and organizations who strive to build an engaged, inclusive, vibrant and healthy London community.

Even though we did not leave with a trophy in our hands, to symbolize a win for COMMUNITY IMPACT, each of us who is a member of NELCE, knows that we win everyday in the hearts of the many participants and people whom we serve through our volunteer-managed programs, events, activities and projects.  And for that we are always GRATEFUL!

NELCE has definitely made and continues to make a real impact in our Northeast Community.  Everyone matters to us in NELCE – we are an inclusive, eclectic group of diverse individuals, very much representative of the demographics you will find in Northeast London; each unique, each bringing his or her gifts, skills and talents to the table, to share with the rest of our community.

So NELCE Members: Take a moment today to reflect on the NELCE you knew when you first joined, and the NELCE you know now – be PROUD, REJOICE, and be HAPPY for NELCE’s growth, successes, team spirit and camaraderie.  And most of all, remember:

A Volunteer Is Not Paid Because He Or She Is Worthless,

But Because He or She Is Priceless!

Our very first award recognizing what NELCE does for its community


Yesterday was November 11 – known around the world as Veteran’s Day or Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day).  Since the end of World War I, on this day, at the 11th hour, Canadians stop what we are doing to observe a few minutes of silence to reflect and remember the ultimate price of fighting for freedom and peace.

It is an important day to many, not just to those who have served in the army, navy or air force, but also for husbands, wives, daughters, sons, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, and yes, even citizens or residents who may not know someone personally who served in a war, or be related to someone who has died in battle, but, nevertheless, wants to pay tribute and remember those who have willingly given up their lives in service to their country.

All over London, Remembrance Day services were held.  Here are just two examples of how two communities in Northeast London paid tribute to our fallen heroes; to remember – LEST WE FORGET.

Northland Mall with the co-operation of The Royal Canadian Victory Legion Branch #317, have been holding the only Indoor Remembrance Day Service open to the public for over 20 years now. Over time, as the veterans have diminished in numbers, the attendance has always grown. 3 and 4 generations of families come to honour those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country. The service is conducted by a member of the Legion, according to protocol and tradition. It also gives everyone an opportunity to lay a poppy on a makeshift field of real grass. A program is produced every year to help young and old follow the service.

Part of the crowd attending Northland Mall's Indoor Remembrance Day ServiceIt is quite a tribute to the veterans when a complete Community Shopping Centre pauses for the 2 minute silence. With our veterans aging, it is wonderful to provide an indoor service that can be attended by friends and family.

Northland Mall would like to thank the following for their contributions to this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony:
The service was put on by: The Royal Canadian Victory Legion Branch # 317
Over seen by : Comrade John Thorton
Officiated by  : Rev Sally Butcher
Flanders Fields: Comrade Mr. Ron McConnell
The Colour Party from Royal Canadian Legion Victory Branch #317 – Ladies Auxiliary
Bob Klein, DJ/Sound System – At Your Service
Piper: John Scott

We at Northland Mall are committed to honouring and providing this venue to our veterans, past & present.

Contributed by Traci Sampson, Office Administrator for Northland Mall 20 Vic Management Inc.

Twin Pines Village Co-opSome of the participantsMembers of the Unifor Local 27 Retirees Chapter helped residents of Twin Pines Village Co-op, located at the southwest corner of Sandford and Huron Streets, to observe Remembrance Day yesterday.  Twin Pines has held Remembrance Day services for a number of years now, and anyone living in the Northeast and area has always been invited to partake in our annual service.Placing poppies and paying respect

thumb_IMG_0578The Bagpiper pays his respectsDepending on the weather, we have anywhere from 30 to 120 people attend.  Most people attending find that it is much more personal, and children are welcome to join in too.  The short service touches people – each in a different way and with the memories they hold dear in their hearts.  Some have come to honour a family member who may be gone but they remember them and how we, as Canadians, all care.


Did you know that NE London offers an exciting art program for budding young artists?  And there are similar opportunities for adults as well?

The New School of Colour (NSOC) is a community based public art program. This program is free and open to the public, but with a special emphasis on offering creative and social opportunities. It allows a positive environment for community members facing social barriers.

Jeremy Jeresky (Art Instructor) began this program as a public art project, because he saw a lack of creative social spaces for community members, but specifically those facing social barriers.

Ontario Trillium FoundationThe original funding for NSOC came from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, as well as donations from other organizations and agencies within London. The objective of the NSOC program is to nurture an innovative change, in conviction with what peoples interests and needs are. It was also designed to encourage social and cultural diversity within the community.

ArtistsThis program is currently running in several locations across London. There is four programs specifically designed for youth, of which one is run out of Beacock Library in Northeast London.  School of Colour Youth Program Exhibit The NSOC program at Beacock runs on Wednesdays from 6:00pm-8:00pm and is designed for youth that are 13-19yrs of age.

The Art Director Jeremy Jeresky partners with LUSO Community Services Youth Worker; Meagan Warwick, to operate this program in the Northeast. This program has grown greatly within the past three months, which has been such a rewarding experience for both the participants involved, and the instructors. Beacock Library was chosen as the location in the Northeast, as they work very closely with many community partners.

School of Colour Exhibits on display during the Official Opening of Beacock Library's Reading GardensThis space is also recognized as very familiar and safe for families and their children. It is easily accessible and has an abundance of space that is able to be utilized for the youth while doing their art projects! The NSOC Youth Program also operates in partnership with four other locations, and the youth workers at those locations:

  1. South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre- Tuesdays-6-8pm
  2. Westminster Central Public School- Thursdays- 3:30-5pm
  3. Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre- Thursdays-5-7pm
  4. Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre- Fridays- 3:30-5pm

Aside from youth programming, NSOC operates at two other locations:

  1. Ark Aid Street Mission- Mondays- 5-8:30pm  (open to all ages: seniors, youth, and families)
  2. My Sisters Place- Wednesdays- 10-11:30am  (women only)

Budding artist young and older share the same passionThe structure of each weekly session is generally the same at each location throughout London. There is one main lesson (project) introduced to all participants. Once the lesson has been taught to the group, everyone has the opportunity to practice what they have been taught and create their project. It is a very hands on and interactive set-up! There are also smaller project stations for the youth to work on once they have finished the main project. Each lesson is very open for interpretation and adaptation. Over the course of our sessions, participants have been able to learn a great deal of Art History, as well as many other different forms of art (painting, sculpture, narrative, etc.)School of Colour Exhibit 3

Overall, NSOC is a place where creative expression is encouraged and welcome! The Youth Program will resume in the New Year, on Wednesday, January 15/2014 at Beacock Library from 6-8pm! The expectations for the program is to really allow participants do a great deal of artistic exploration, by offering engaging art projects. It is also a plan to incorporate a literacy component within the program, to allow more learning opportunities!

The New School of Colour art program is something that not only the Northeast community has been involved with, but communities all over the City of London. We are very excited to see what the year 2014 has in store!