North Central Neighbourhood local context
The North Central community was originally established as affordable accommodation for labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s and, later, the 1960s Indian Act amendments allowed new mobility, which created a new urban aboriginal population from First Nations who migrated off reserves. There is a large stock of affordable but low quality rental properties in this area that result in high levels of transience due to slumlords and poverty. News reports provide statistic-filled socio-economic descriptions of the neighbourhood, and expound the hard numbers on crime and poverty (Gatehouse 2007). There is a significantly higher concentration of First Nations, Metis, and people from immigrant backgrounds in comparison to the rest of the city of Regina, as well as a high incidence of poverty (Canadian Bureau of Statistics 2007). While previous studies on this neighbourhood (Parnes 2003; Office for Urbanism 2009) do not directly correlate cultural status to issues of poverty, crime and health, there are clear inequities between this community and others. More than eighty agencies service its community and cultural needs.
However, there are many assets in this community that seem to be overlooked, because the sound of negative representation is often heard much more loudly. North Central is also home to strong multiculturalism, has a very young population, and has a unique walkable urban design with a natural tree canopy, home to many bird species.
Cultural pride and resilience are recognised locally as this community's most valuable and often overlooked assets. This community's achievements often sit outside mainstream hierarchical notions of arts and culture, yet there is a very clear sense of tradition, identity and aesthetics in everyday life and culture here. Jackson's approach to measuring cultural vitality also recognises this concern:
Arts, culture and creativity, at the neighbourhood level include the cultural expressions of ethnic, racial, age and special interest groups that may not be validated or adequately represented in mainstream cultural institutions (Jackson 2002, 1).