Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2012


Parkdale is the “landing strip” for waves of immigrants and refugees arriving in Toronto; it’s also home to, or the near neighbour of, a number of MFA students in the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing Program and two SETS faculty members: Catherine Bush and Michelle Elleray.


In January and February each year, students from the Creative Writing MFA head to Parkdale Public School in Toronto to work with Grade 7/8 students on the Parkdale Project, an initiative led by Pofessors Bush and Elleray that brings creative literacy to an inner city school. The MFA students are the instructors, thinking through how to engage eleven- and twelve-year olds in articulating the world around them, how to involve students newly arrived to Canada who are still learning to communicate in English, how to take all the energy and ideas the Parkdale students generate and help shape them into a poem or story. More recently, the Parkdale Project has expanded to the local high school, Parkdale Collegiate Institute. At the end of the Parkdale Project the Grade 7/8 students choose their best piece of work to include in an anthology and join the high school and MFA students to read their work aloud.

The Grade 7/8 students write about everything from family reunification and peer pressure to one of the most visible benefits of Parkdale’s diversity: great food!

Chains of restaurants
In the heart of the city.
I’ll starve before decision

by Norbu, Gr. 8 (2012), Parkdale PS

The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region. We recognize that today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and acknowledging them reminds us of our collective responsibility to the land where we learn, live and work.