Curator of culture in Koreatown
The parent: Mia Nielsen, director of arts and culture at the Drake Home: Two floors of a rented house in Koreatown Kid: Ian Le Quelenec, 13
What is the best part about your nabe?
Mia: It’s a really creative neighbourhood. There are lots of little parties and festivals in the summer that are very unique to the area. I walk a lot, and my son skateboards, so we’ll walk down to Kensington Market. We’ll go to the AGO. We’ll go to concerts. That’s what I love about the city.
What has your experience been like with schooling in Toronto?
Ian goes to an amazing school: Horizon Alternative. I was looking for a program that was academically advanced and challenging but something with a little bit of a different approach than the gifted stream. It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s a good fit. There’s also a lot of room for creativity. It’s a really neat program.
What has your journey been like as a single parent?
I think there are lots of pros and cons to being a single parent. I feel like Ian and I have a really special bond because it is just the two of us. He often comes with me to openings and receptions and performances. I feel like, with it just being him and I, there isn’t as much distinction between “adult time” and “kid time.” Sometimes I’ll have friends over for dinner, and he’s usually there at the table with three other adults, discussing politics or whatever. One thing I’m really fortunate to experience is that, because I work in culture, I’m always really curious about it — whether it’s new music or street art — and I think that aspect of my job has allowed me to connect with him in different ways as he gets older.
Do you feel that city kids grow up with certain advantages?
City kids learn to be independent because of the public transit system. My son told me a story where he was on the subway with a friend engrossed in conversation and they missed the stop where they had to transfer. When you’re 11 or 12 years old, you have to think on your feet and be confident that you can solve this.