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Public Engagement in Experiential Futures

As newcomers arrive in Canada, entering the formal work economy is becoming harder as governments try to respond to economic and social needs of newcomers that are becoming exponentially complex. A Foresight Walk was created in collaboration with Jane’s Walk Toronto to explore the possible tensions newcomers might face with this issue.

About the walk

It is decades into the future, and precarious work is taking its toll on the many newcomers and refugees of Toronto. Participants were asked  to join us on a foresight walk through one of the most culturally diverse neighbourhoods of Toronto and see what these same places mean to newcomers in a future image of the city.

Artifacts from the future that help tell Aiko's story

Walk participants as they walk through downtown Toronto

The foresight map highlights the 3 separate audio acts along with their corresponding walk events

Aiko Nakamura

Participants were asked to embody the character of Aiko Nakamura – a climate refugee from Japan and experienced her life through her shoes in a three-act audio narrative interspersed with interactive events, and experience how underlying future drivers such as community cohesion, automation, unemployment, and deteriorating infrastructure play a role in the lives of newcomers in Canada.

Act 1

Upset and discouraged after having losing her serving job at a local restaurant, Aiko looks to connect with her Japanese community at Grange Park.

Act 2

A new but questionable employment opportunity is delivered to Aiko through her WorkMe mobile app. She makes her way to Dragon City mall in Chinatown to connect with this new employer.

Act 3

Aiko is forced to choose between protecting her community or protecting herself.

Post-walk discussion

The foresight scenario that Aiko Nakamura existed in brought about a few critical issues that the group explored through a facilitation discussion. 

The discussion first started with participants sharing what their emotional impressions of this proposed future. Some of these included the following:

To further articulate their experience of this future, participants were asked how their outlook of the future changed having experienced it. The following were some of the responses:

In finding ways to better plan for the employment needs of newcomers, participants highlighted some of the barriers stakeholders might face in tackling that issue:

Highlighting opportunities in this future will also be important for cities as they can act as points of leverage to help move towards better providing for newcomers. Some of these opportunities included: