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At Home in the Hood Part Two: A 9-year-old cleans up, a movement is started

All this week, CBC Daybreak North is running a special series called "At Home in the Hood: Stories from Prince George's VLA." The VLA stands for "Veteran's Land Act" because the neighbourhood was originally built to provide affordable housing for World War II veterans. Today, it has a reputation for being poor and crime-ridden. We hope to get people talking about the challenges and solutions for the VLA.


Meet the 9-year-old cleaning up the hood

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Clive Keen of the Prince George Naturalists Club considers how to incorporate a downtown neighbourhood and trailer park into an improved Hudson's Bay Slough trail the club is working on.

Even though Prince George's VLA is in the heart of the city, it's still close to nature-- if you know where to look. We explore the Hudson's Bay Slough with naturalist Clive Keen, and Eco-Guardian Raia Patrick-Prince.

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Bonus: a full tour of the Hudson's Bay Slough with Clive Keen

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No car, two kids, and it's thirty below: the reality of life for Prince George's poorest families

When Cathy Wiegand moved to Prince George as a teenager in the 1960s, the VLA already had a reputation. She says gangs, which were then referred to as "pods" had already formed, and her parents didn't like her going out at night.

Years later she returned to help lead the development of the Carney Hill Neighbourhood Centre, to help provide service and childcare to the poorer families of the VLA. One of the people she helped was Toni Carlton, a single mother with few resources. Toni says the centre helped her find a community in the VLA, and when Cathy retired, Toni took over the job of running the centre.

Listen to Cathy and Toni speak about the challenges they see facing the VLA:

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"There's a lot of you need to do this, you need to do that... when you have 15 programs you need to get to in a day and still do a job search on top of that, as well as still pick up your kids by 2:30... why would you want to get out of bed some days?" - Toni Carlton

Panel discussion: is there hope for the hood?

As part of our coverage of the VLA, we held a special edition of our joint review panel. Our guests discuss the challenges facing "the hood", possible solutions, and whether it is fair to call the VLA a "hood" at all.

Catherine Kendall is a community development consultant who has spent many years working in the VLA at the community resource centre Hadih House, Dawn Hemingway is the chair of the school of social work at the University of Northern British Columbia, Ivan Paquette is a singer, songwriter, and youth mentor, and producer MC Philosophy who spent time living in the VLA.

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Listener feedback:

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We are sharing listener comments on our coverage of the VLA, as well. One message reads:

"In 2011 our grouphome for youth at risk received a donation from anonymous residents of the hood that had been collected at a neighbourhood barbecue there. And they said it was in appreciation of all that we did, and we all appreciated their concern and their thoughtfulness. There are people with heart living in that area of town, and they should be applauded."

Val Reimer writes:

"What kind of community is the VLA?  The kind of community where you actually see your neighbor and they dont just drive straight into their garage which leads into the house, the kind of community where you can visit with your neighbor over the fence and ask him or her for a cup of milk."

And Norman Dale comments:

"The VLA... seems to be a place where people who have pretty low income live. No doubt the vast majority of them want the same things everyone else in the city seeks. I think the neighbourhood suffers from stereotyping and that what you (Daybreak North) are doing is an excellent step towards appreciating the place more than most of us do."

Find more coverage of the VLA, and get information about our community forum on January 24 on our special page dedicated to this series.

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