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Celebrate Toronto

From many of my articles you already know that fostering diversity and cross-cultural connections has been an important cause for me for a long time. As an immigrant in Toronto and as a small business owner who works with very diverse staff members from all over the world, I have had extensive exposure to people from all over the world right here, in my chosen home town, Toronto. Fostering tolerance and understanding between people of different places and backgrounds has long been an important cause to me.

My website deals a lot with these issues. In general my articles and interviews focus on four major topic areas:

- unconventional travel and interesting life journeys
- cross-cultural connections and celebrating diversity
- Canada, this unique multicultural social experiment of ours
- people and organizations who make a difference.

Throughout my adolescence in Europe and my international travel since then, I have been exposed to many places around the world and I believe that Canada, and more specifically Toronto, are unique. Here in Toronto we truly celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. Most of us embrace our multicultural makeup, and immigrants are allowed to retain and celebrate their heritage while they start to embrace their new home.

In my opinion, this mindset is rather unique around the world as evidenced by the ethnic tensions in various places in Europe, not to mention the deplorable situation in the Middle East. What makes Toronto so unique, in my view, is this multi-ethnic makeup where people from the most diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds co-exist in relative harmony and peace. I really view Toronto as a unique paradigm of tolerance and inclusion, as a model city that could serve as an example for the world.

In addition, Toronto is a vibrant place, with a broad offering of special events, arts and culture, festivals, restaurants and entertainment, nature and outdoor experiences and sports opportunities. It's a great place, and that's why I write about Toronto a lot on my website.

Every time I return from a travel assignment I realize how unique and special Toronto is, which motivated me to embark on a new project entitled "Celebrate Toronto" which consists of an article series, a photo exhibition and a multimedia presentation that will celebrate this city of ours in print, images and sound. The entire project will be dedicated to a fundraising effort for the Scadding Community Centre's antigang-antigun intervention project that aims to expose Toronto and area youth who have already experienced the gang lifestyle to life-changing international learning experiences. The hope is to create future community leaders and volunteers who believe in community service and who will become positive role models for their neighbourhoods.

The article series will encompass landmark sights and attractions, organizations that make a difference, and interesting individuals that make a positive contribution to Toronto's social fabric. Over the next year and beyond, I will spend some of my time interviewing Toronto individuals and organizations that embody the spirit of our city, in the hope that this spirit of inclusiveness and tolerance will resonate with audiences across the world.

Let me give you some examples of interesting and outstanding Toronto citizens and organizations that all make a difference in their own way:

- Lenny Lombardi, a pioneer of multicultural radio
- Ben Viccari, a lifetime dedicated to multicultural communications
- Christina Zeidler, hotelier, social entrepreneur, artist and urban visionary
- Bruce Poon Tip: Canadian immigrant and successful global travel entrepreneur with a conscience
- Farzana Hassan: a progressive voice in Canadian Islam
- Esther Garfin and Li Yeh: two Toronto women who created a Holocaust documentary
- Dr. Rajiv Arya: a Toronto dentist, lawyer and international volunteer
- Danielle Lafond, a Toronto woman who mortgaged her condo to create an NGO in Peru
- Sue Kenney, pilgrim, motivational speaker and an inspiring voice for inner change
- Danielle Weiss, a Toronto woman who volunteers in Latin America
- Skills for Change, a leader in immigrant settlement
- Scadding Court Community Centre, an all-round social services agency

For your interest, here are some existing articles covering some significant Toronto landmarks and events:

- The Distillery District: derelict Victorian heritage turned into a vibrant centre of culture and entertainment
- A behind-the-scenes look at the Royal York Hotel
- Casa Loma's interesting history
- Discovering the nooks and crannies of Casa Loma
- Toronto's Taste of Little Italy 2006
- Toronto's International Dragonboat Festival 2006
- Toronto's architectural festival, Doors Open 2006
- The 2006 Toronto Street Festival and Afrofest
- Toronto sizzles in the summer of 2006
- An interview with Caribana
- An interview with Pride Toronto

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