Patricia (Pat) Cole 1943 - 1998
Inspiring Regent Park Community Leader
Pat Cole was born in Toronto and schooled by the Carmelite Nuns. She was a long-time resident and avid volunteer of Regent Park, a neighbourhood located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Being a single mother living in Regent Park, she sought the help of agencies to assist her and her five children. She was so thankful to receive the support that she decided to help others in order to instill dignity in each person who was struggling to feed their children. There were times when people came to her home leaving with bags of food.
While living in Regent Park, Pat Cole made significant and much needed changes within the community, many of which still exist today. She was a founder and volunteer with the Regent Park Resident Association (RPRA), which was a resident-driven organization that played a role as the key voice of the community. The association was strong, and active people organized social and cultural events, as well as initiated innovative programs and services from the 1970’s -1990’s. Issues such as inadequate housing, income and food security, the needs for a community centre and for youth community workers were addressed.
Pat was also involved with “The Teen Association” – an offshoot from the RPRA. It brought youth from diverse backgrounds together in a safe and welcoming drop-in space.
She was also involved with The “Community Worker Training Program” which focused on unemployed youth and the “Sole Support Mom’s Nutrition Project” which evolved to support single mothers who were raising children alone. This was a very creative group of women who also lobbied to increase Family Allowance.
Pat Cole’s contributions are endless. She started the first Organic Community Garden in 1984 on land donated by Metropolitan Toronto Housing. She organized “pick your own” trips to farms throughout the Summer and Fall and community potluck dinners. Pat acquired donations of produce from the St. Lawrence Market which were distributed within the community twice a week.
For twenty years, Pat Cole was an inspiring community leader and a true advocate for Regent Park. “Cole Street” had been named in her honour and is the first new street to be established since Regent Park was first built.
Hear her talk: