Community

YESS Celebrates Indigenous History Month!

by Shantell Martineau, Programming Coordinator

 

Can you tell us about the Ceremony you just went on with the youth?

YESS was invited to bring Youth to the land for 6 days of Ceremony. It was a Fasting Ceremony. There was an opportunity to be of service and help. Helping roles looked like dishwashing, cooking the feast, chopping wood, set-up/take-down, and supporting the lodge helpers. The roles to fill provided access to knowledge, companionship, leadership, and growth opportunities for both the Youth and Staff. Entering the lodges, singing the songs, feeling the drums and rattles, feasting together, and hearing the teachings of the Ceremony were all accessible for Youth. Seeing Youth connect with Elder, be inquisitive, receive helper protocol, explore the land, and support each other along this journey was a gift. Learning along the way that Ceremony can be explored. Not everyone is ready to enter the lodge, but maybe sitting around the lodge and hearing the singing and prayers and teachings is enough. I personally learnt that meeting the needs and readiness is enough. 

What do you wish more people knew for Indigenous History Month?

I wish more people knew about the sacred connection Indigenous Peoples have with Mother Earth, with Creator, with Spirit, and with all Creation. Connection to ancestral lineage that gives strength and resiliency. I wish more people could see us as we see them, our relations, our brothers, our sisters, our equals. I wish more people could witness the natural learning we enter while we connect on the land. We gather with the land, we pray with the land, we celebrate and hold Ceremony for the land. I wish more people could understand and respect this truth. I wish more helpers step forward and support Indigenous Peoples right to advocate and to create spaces for this connection to grow stronger. I wish this help could be witnessed and felt every day of the year but starting with a Month is still a good way to grow.

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YESS Celebrates Pride Month!

by Tessa Mulcair, Manager of Shelters

 

This month we held a youth Pride event with some of our community partners. We won’t lie, we’ve been missing the Pride parade around here. The majority of our youth are 2SLGBTQ+ and many have faced isolation and rejection from their families for it. The Pride parade was a time where we could not only celebrate our youth, but also surround them with thousands of people flying rainbows and letting them physically see that they belong in the community.

While there was no parade this year, there was a block-style festival held at Grindstone Theater. These types of events, though they are inclusive and accessible in nature, can be intimidating for people who are not quite sure where they belong in society. When you hear “You’re not a paying customer, go away” the other 364 days a year, it can be hard to suddenly trust that if you sit down to watch a free drag show or concert you won’t be shooed away. So, we created an event just for marginalized youth to kick off the festival and set them up to know that they belong at Pride too.

Together with CHEW, OSYS, and iHuman we created a space where youth could get their rainbow on – literally, with a Pride swag station. They could get decked out in free rainbow gear and glitter, or simply grab a flag, either way the goal was to make sure they would fit right in at the festival. We had Fox Burger swing by with their food truck and generously provide an amazing meal, so they would not feel left out if they could not afford the festival food options. Kind Ice Cream provided us with their rainbow “Gay OK” ice cream, of course it was a big hit too. Youth could create their own patches and buttons on the spot so that they could reflect their identity exactly how they wanted to. We had a selfie station where they could get an instant-print picture with friends or our fabulous guest drag queen, Karmic the Kween. We also had guest appearances by local queer icons MLA Janis Irwin and MP Randy Boissonnault. And finally, we held a “reverse parade”, making signs and waving our flags on Gateway Blvd to celebrate with those driving by our little event, pulling in a hint of that community support we know is so strong.

We’d like to give a huge thank you to all those that worked to pull this event together, our youth felt the love and support.

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Spotlight on No Period Without

No Period Without was founded in 2017 when an Edmonton homeless woman asked Scarlet Bjornson for change. Out of curiosity, as Scarlet gave her some money she asked the woman what she planned to spend the money on. The woman replied, “Well truthfully ma’am, I would like to buy some booze, but I need to buy some tampons.” In Scarlet’s words “This hit me like a brick. I went to my car and grabbed my emergency stash of tampons from the car and gave them to her.” She took to social media to ask her friends if anyone was interested in helping with a tampon drive and the response was overwhelming both from those that wanted to help, and from charitable organizations in the city hoping to be a recipient of the donations.

The overwhelming community support and requests for support from local organizations highlighted the ongoing issue of period poverty in Edmonton. It was clear there was a need for continual and consistent support as well as advocacy. This led to the evolution of No Period Without.

How do you see the impact of your organization in the community?

By providing free menstrual hygiene products to key stakeholders like YESS, NPW is able to address period poverty in a meaningful and eliminate the burden of that cost for our beneficiaries. NPW also played a key role in getting free menstrual hygiene products added to City of Edmonton washrooms and continues to advocate for increased access for those experiencing period poverty.

What is one thing you wish the community knew about your purpose for the community that you serve? 

NPW believes everyone has the right to a safe and healthy menstrual cycle. Period poverty is also a manifestation of the wage gap, it is more expensive to experience homelessness if you menstruate and one of our goals is to remove that financial burden for those experiencing period poverty.

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We Belong Circle: A Collaboration with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Northern Alberta and YESS

In fall 2021, YESS Programming Coordinator Shantell Martineau was inspired to create a girls’ empowerment group where participants could learn and support each other.

“This idea for an empowerment group for girls was sparked after attending the Indspire 2020 National Gathering for Indigenous Education,” says Shantell. “One group presenting was called Young Indigenous Women’s Utopia out of Saskatoon, SK, Treaty 6 Territory. They had created a girls empowerment group, affiliated with Circles within Circles, to support the fight against gender-based violence.

“I felt in my heart that Edmonton youth needed a group like this one. One where they belong, they connect, they learn, they grow, and one day they empower others. Efry’s [Elizabeth Fry Society of Northern Alberta] Youth Services Programming Coordinator, Avnit Dhanoa, reached out to me in the early fall to collaborate and the idea was formalized in a beautiful collaborative program.”

The We Belong Circle creates space for YESS and Efry youth to engage in the learning and developing of life skills, cultural knowledge, and how to empower others and themselves. The goal is to build a culture of sisterhood within the group and to lead them towards social justice initiatives that help to combat gender-based violence.

We talked to Shantell’s collaborator at Efry, Avnit Dhanoa, about their side of the experience in how this project came to be and the impact it has on the youth who access Efry. Efry’s mission is to advance the dignity and worth of all women and girls who are or may be at risk of becoming criminalized.

Tell us about yourself and your organization!

My name is Avnit (she/her) and I am the Youth Services Program Coordinator at Elizabeth Fry Society of Northern Alberta! At Efry, we advocate for women, girls, and gender diverse folks who are criminalized and marginalized in society. As a youth coordinator, I run multiple programs and support youth through the criminal justice system. When I’m not working with the kiddos, I enjoy solo cafe days and film photography!

How did the We Belong Circle collaboration come about? What has the impact of this program been?

When I started my position as a youth coordinator, I really wanted there to be a program where youth could get together and express/get to know their identity, especially their identity as a person of colour. I know how hard it can be to grow up as a minority and this circle is meant for them to feel a sense of connection with themselves, each other, and the land around them. The youth are able to have open discussions where they aren’t afraid of being judged and they are surrounded by people who understand what they might be going through. As someone who primarily works with youth in the criminal justice system, a program like the We Belong Circle has long-lasting effects where youth in our community are exposed to a sense of sisterhood at a younger age, hopefully keeping them away from the system.

What is one thing you wish the community knew about youth who have experienced trauma and homelessness?

Children who grow up in broken homes will gravitate towards the same brokenness as youth. They find comfort in the chaos because they don’t know what life looks like without it. If you are a youth worker, community member, or simply anyone who is witnessing a youth putting themselves at risk, don’t give up on them.

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Community Spotlight: Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE)

This article was originally published in our May 2021 newsletter, themed around “safety.”

This month we want highlight the work being done at the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton (SACE). May is Sexual Violence Awareness Month in Alberta, and May 5 the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

We talked to Meital Siva-Jain, Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Initiatives Team Lead at SACE. Meital shares the programs and resources SACE offers as well as the impact she sees their work having on the community, from youth to older generations.

 

Tell us about your organization and your role.

The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton’s mandate is to support people impacted by sexual violence and to change the attitudes and values that lead to sexual violence. We offer counselling services to ages 3 and up, support and information lines, police and court support, public education, and community and institutional support. We offer these services to all genders and backgrounds at no fee. We also have a Diversity and Inclusion program that works to ensure our services are accessible to anyone that might need to access them.

I joined SACE in 2014 and have been leading the Diversity and Inclusion program since then. Under this role I focus on building relationships with other organizations and community members to address barriers to services. This role has allowed me to learn from community members about how systemic barriers impact their access to support. I also learned that addressing those barriers is often the support that folks need to do their own healing.

One way to address barriers is to offer tailored content and services. Last summer, a group of SACE staff started creating a resource for newcomers in Canada that provides information on consent and healthy relationship in accessible and inclusive language. This work included many community consultations with partner organizations, and it resulted in the creation of Landed. We are very happy to see how well Landed has been received by the community.   

 

Is there anything new or innovative your organization is currently promoting or focusing on?

We’re excited to soon be offering the WiseGuyz program to our community; WiseGuyz  is a school-based program for grade nine boys that addresses the issues young men face and gives participants tools to engage in healthy relationships.

We’re also now offering training for professionals and care providers working with older adult populations. The trainings seek to provide those in the elder care sector with the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to recognize sexual violence in their places of work and supportively respond to older adults who have been recently or historically impacted by this issue. We’ll be releasing a one-pager handout and learn article that summarizes key information from the presentation and that service providers can use as a reference and to promote awareness and competency in their workplace around elder sexual abuse. We hope this information will be a reminder to folks that it is never too late to start healing.

 

How do you see your organization’s impact on the community?

I see our impact in twofold: the impact on survivors of sexual violence and their families, and on the community at large. In terms of survivors, it is important for people of all genders and backgrounds to know they can be heard and accepted. As a survivor, I remember that just the mere existence of a sexual assault centre made me feel acknowledged. So I think that the first impact of SACE is that survivors know there is a place dedicated to support them. Being believed and accepted helps with healing and ultimately contributes to a healthier community.

The second part of our impact is in the community level. Like others in the anti-violence sector, we work hard to promote consent and show that violent behaviours are linked to specific attitudes and values. Our approach is centred on non-victim blaming education, and we use an anti-oppressive lens when working with communities. I am an optimist and see a positive shift in how the public understands sexual violence and addresses it.

 

What is one thing you wish the community knew about the realities that youth currently face when it comes to sexual health and safety?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, youth are more dependent on social media to connect with their peers. Many of us did not grow with social media and we need to remember that beside social connection it can also offer great resources and support for kids. For example, I hear from my daughter how youth use social media to promote inclusiveness and “cancel” people who use offending behaviours. It is our responsibility to teach kids about sexual health and healthy behaviours, and to provide them with this toolbox to better navigate the digital world. But we also need to trust them when they use it and not blame them if they experience any kind of violence.

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iHuman Youth Society

This article was originally published in our March 2021 newsletter, themed around “art.”

iHuman Youth Society is a non-profit that believes all young people have gifts to share. In partnership with marginalized young people, they amplify their creative expression, address their needs, and support goals that privilege their voices. They support youth impacted by the negative outcomes associated with poverty, intergenerational trauma, addiction, mental health, abuse, racism, discrimination, and exploitation. Over 500 youth between 12-24 years of age access iHuman every year, 80% of whom self-identify as Indigenous. While iHuman provides free access to their services and programs, they are not a drop-in centre—youth actively engage in determining their individualized journey through iHuman’s resources and guide how they can be supported.

We talked to Steve Pirot, Artistic Director of iHuman Studios, about their mission to invite young artists to use acts of expression to transform their experiences of trauma into experiences of self-worth, purpose, identity, and belonging. 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work with iHuman.

My name is Steve Pirot and my job title is Artistic Director of iHuman Studios; prior to working here I was an actor, writer, director, and producer of theatre and festivals. My function at iHuman is to provide direction and oversight to our studio system. I work for a large collective of artists who happen to be between the ages of 12 and 24. My job is to organize schedules, budgets, materials, staff, volunteers, spaces, and shows so that members of that collective have opportunities to express themselves. Sometimes that opportunity for expression will be personal, quiet, private; sometimes that opportunity will be public and effusive. Sometimes my job is to ensure a studio has a gentle vibe for an artist to work undisturbed, and sometimes my job is to bark into a microphone as iHuman’s hype-man.

In coming to iHuman from a mainstream artistic practice, I have had to recalibrate. My definition of art used to be informed by the idea that art was a commodity to be consumed; in that paradigm the idea of The Artist was necessarily elitist, because there needed to be an audience (the majority) that would consume the work created by the artist (the minority). In my practice at iHuman I have transformed to a perspective that art is not a product, but rather it is a process of expression. If you have the capacity to express, then you are an artist, and therefore all people are artists because it does not matter if your artistry is public, or even if it is ever viewed by another person. 

 

Why is art/creativity an important experience for youth to cultivate and have access to?

The essence of art is expression, and it is important for ALL people regardless of age to have the ability to express themselves. Cultivating the tools and habits of self-expression is essential for scores of reasons: to be sound in one’s mind, to build solid relationships, to foster a balanced society. It is especially important to cultivate these habits when younger because the skills one learns through the process of producing beats, or organizing chords, or composing a photograph, or beading earrings, or sewing a ribbon skirt… these are all transferable skills. In essence we are talking about pattern recognition, project planning and execution, communication. At iHuman we don’t look at art as being a product, but rather it is a tool to promote other outcomes. 

 

What is something you wish the community knew about youth who are healing from trauma?

I wish that the community at large was better informed about our brains actually function. How do our brains behave when hijacked by the amygdala? Can we identify the symptoms of an individual in shock? How is an individual in the grip of a flight/fight response able to interact with the world? If the general public were better informed about how human brains work, then we could have a better foundation to have meaningful conversations about more complex issues like multi-generational trauma, addictions, etc.


On April 1, 2021, iHuman is hosting a drive-thru donation event! Drop off donations without leaving your car and enjoy live art and music from iHuman artists!

For more information visit ihuman.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Keeping Our Neighbours Safe During Extreme Weather

The original version of this article was published in our November 2020 newsletter. Information has been updated to reflect the current Sector Emergency Response, as of January 2022.

When temperatures drop, most Edmontonians can keep warm inside their homes. But where do you go when you don’t have a home? For those experiencing homelessness this is a frightening reality that can be dangerous without contingency plans in place.  

Every winter, members of Edmonton’s homeless-serving sector—comprised of Homeward Trust, the City of Edmonton, and more than 25 system partners and agencies—coordinate an emergency response to reduce the risk for people experiencing homelessness by getting them into a safe space as quickly and as easily as possible. The current public health crisis has exacerbated the risk for people experiencing homelessness, highlighting a need for an emergency response that goes beyond extreme weather to address unforeseeable challenges. 

This coordinated response has resulted in a shift in focus to a broader Sector Emergency Response (SER) to reflect the year-round need to ensure networks are in place and active in order to support individuals when shelters are at capacity and the weather takes a turn for the worst.

“We know people experiencing homelessness are already at increased risk. The compounding effects of extreme cold weather and COVID-19 exposure and restrictions only adds to those dangers,” explains Matthew Ward of Homeward Trust. “Our Sector Emergency Response, which builds off existing control measures to keep the COVID-19 virus from spreading, are important steps to help people experiencing homelessness stay safe.”

A collaborative and proactive problem-solving approach is taken to address arising challenges, which involves partners working together in sharing timely data and resource information between shelter providers, emergency services, transportation services and other service providers across the city to deliver supports to those who need it. 

Triggers that activate the Sector Emergency Response in winter are temperatures of -20 or below (including windchill). The response would typically involve lifting bans at shelters under the discretion of providers, opening overflow spaces, increasing current shelter capacity where possible, and providing supplementary transportation services. Edmonton Transit Services has also operated additional buses to serve as a warming space and transport people to shelters.

And in the summer, extreme heat or poor air quality are conditions that could activate a Sector Emergency Response. The response looks at weather warnings from Environment Canada, existing capacity of the city’s emergency shelters, and other emerging concerns expressed by the group.

While the best solution to homelessness is permanent housing, the Sector Emergency Response ensures that people experiencing homelessness have access to life-saving services in times of immediate crisis and are protected from the risks of COVID-19 and cold weather.  

 

For a current list of shelters available and/or latest updates on the Sector Emergency Response, visit homewardtrust.ca

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Breaking Barriers in Mental Health Support

This article was originally published in our February 2021 newsletter, themed around “empathy and understanding.”

In January, Africa Centre and The Alberta Black Therapists Network launched their new counselling program! This program not only provides free counselling services, but is also part of breaking down barriers and stigma that still surround accessing mental health supports.

We talked to Noreen Sibanda, Executive Director of The Alberta Black Therapists Network, about this new program and its impact on the community.

Tell us about the new counselling program in collaboration with The Africa Centre.

The clinic is funded by the United Way and a collaboration between Africa Centre and The Alberta Black Therapists Network (ABTN). We are proud to offer free counselling support to the African descent community through licensed therapists who have a cultural understanding and offer trauma and healing centered approaches. Our services provide formal, 50-minute, one-to-one counselling sessions in the form of short-term intervention, utilizing solution-focused therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. The services are available over a secure video platform and can be accessed as an individual, group, or couple. We also had secured a donation from Ikea to furnish an office space that we look forward to utilizing when restrictions are lifted.

Why is now an important time for this resource to be available?

We have seen a rise in the need for mental health resources because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now more than ever people need professional support. Unfortunately, despite this desperate need, the barriers to accessing support (cost, long waiting times, stigma), still exist. This service allows people who are struggling with their mental health to connect and not have to worry about costs, as most people cannot afford to access therapeutic support. It allows our community to access services from the organizations that they already know, at no cost and from individuals that share similar lived experiences.

What is something you wish the community knew about youth mental health?

I believe mental health needs to be a part of our overall wellness. Supports services need to include healing, otherwise we are merely treating the symptoms which leads to an overuse of services.

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Meet the Youth Agency Collaboration and Edmonton Coordinated Youth Response Team

To share their experiences in working with youth and as part of the Edmonton Coordinated Youth Response, we talked to Gus Gusul, Management and Strategy Consultant for the Youth Agency Collaboration (YAC), and Lux, Family Resource Network Manager for the C5 NE Hub.


Tell us a bit about yourself and organization.

Gus Gusul: My name is Gus. Now, I know that legally my name is really Matthew Gusul, but no one calls me that (except my mom and the police) – please call me Gus. I am from rural Alberta growing up on an acreage a half mile south of a village named Bittern Lake that is halfway between Camrose and Wetaskiwin on Treaty Six Territory. My family came to Canada one generation ago on my dad’s side (Ukrainian) and two generations ago on my mom’s (Polish), making me a Settler.

I have spent a lot of time in university classrooms, recording studios, rehearsal halls, theatres, in the various places charities/non-profits call offices, pubs/coffee shops, and riding my bike. I have a PhD in theatre where my research was working in Tamil Nadu/Pondicherry, India to help start intergenerational theatre performances in rural areas. I have played in bands and am currently working on recording some songs I have written. I have also written several plays and have taught acting. I have worked for charities/non-profits for all my career outside of a year-long stint working for Indigenous Relations for the Government of Alberta.

I am currently hired as a Strategy and Management Consultant to help the Youth Agency Collaboration complete the final phase of our process in creating a city-wide model for the alleviation of the negative effects of poverty and homelessness on young people in Edmonton. YESS and Boyle Street are sharing the fiscal responsibility for my role.

Lux: My name is Lux, my pronouns are they/them, and I grew up in Treaty 7 territory, just outside Mohkinstsis. A proud queer and trans first generation Canadian, I have spent my adult life in the Human Services field and am currently the Family Resource Network Manager for the C5 NE Hub. The C5 is a collaboration of five non-profits (Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, Boyle Street Community Services, Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Norwood Family and Child Resource Centre, and Terra Centre for Teen Parents) who collectively support over 30,000 Edmontonians. The C5 NE Hub is a microcosm of the collaboration in action and was a response to a lack of services in NE Edmonton. The C5 NE Hub currently offers a community hub, employment supports, a Family Resource Network Hub, and food security programming.

How did you become involved with Youth Agency Collaboration and the Coordinated Youth Response?

GG: Last year while I was working as the Interim Executive Director of iHuman Youth Society, I was a member of the Leadership Steering Committee for YAC/CYR after Margo and Krysta (Krysta Fitzgerald, Deputy Executive Director, Boyle Street Community Services) invited me to sit on the committee. I really identified with the goals of YAC/ CYR in the efforts towards collaboration.

While working in India, I was amazed at the level of collaboration between the charities. If one group had extra milk, vegetables, laborers, or just about anything it was immediately shared with their neighbour organization; they collaborated on fundraising in the bigger cities and made sure any visiting dignitaries saw all the amazing work being done in their communities. I was more accustomed to the territoriality and competition between charities I had seen in Canada. I am excited to be working towards collaboration as I see the reality that a rising tide raises all the boats, not just mine. This past summer, I felt my time with iHuman was winding down and took on the challenge of helping with completing the final phase of the YAC Project as the Strategy and Management Consultant.

L: The C5 NE Hub and our Boyle Street neighbour program, Ubuntu, became a joint CYR Hub from the inception of the response, and I had the pleasure of representing us at the table. My background is in youth work and I have a long history of working in youth crisis and housing instability, so it was a good fit. I am able to bring my experience in agency collaboration, my experience as a frontline worker, and my lived experience as a natural support of folx experiencing crisis and housing instability to this work.

How does the Youth Agency Collaboration and the Coordinated Youth Response address the unique needs of youth experiencing homelessness?

GG: Youth-serving agencies in Edmonton are not collaborating well. The fault for this does not lie with the agencies but with the culture our community has historically operated in. Charities are in competition with each other. We compete for funding from the government, for donation dollars from the Edmonton public, and we compete to have young people’s foot traffic through our agencies so we can show the best data. This culture of competition has weakened the ability of youth-serving agencies to meet the needs of young people.

The main purpose behind YAC/CYR is to reform this culture of competition into a culture of collaboration where agencies work to blanket the whole city in crisis services which young people can utilize to aid them in their ability to self-actualize the goals they have for their life. The group of agencies that serve young people in Edmonton will gain in strength through collaboration. We will be better able to advocate to government and business to what our sector needs to support the young people and the frontline staff. If we unite our voice, it will strengthen our voice. If we unite our knowledge, it will strengthen our ability to serve. If we unite our efforts, we will make a positive impact on the young people’s ability to achieve their goals.

I also see YAC/CYR as an opportunity to refocus the efforts of the youth-serving sector from treating the symptoms of poverty, houselessness, and other negative effects caused by capitalism and colonialism and to look at treating the root issues of trauma and family/community neglect. YAC/CYR goal of collaboration gives the youth-serving agencies in Edmonton the ability to focus on more preventative measures. Our collaboration will work to set a standard of practice that will focus on prevention. This shift in focus will help build community and aid young people in their ability to obtain self-actualization.

L: The YAC/CYR work is based on a report completed in Edmonton using stakeholder and lived experience feedback. By utilizing participant-based and practice-based evidence to guide our work we ensure that the voices of those we serve are at the forefront of our decision making. The CYR platform leverages technology to get youth connected to a team of supports when they ask for it, rather than expecting youth to traverse the entire city, often taking several

days, to build their care team on their own, if they are able to navigate the existing barriers. We are meeting the unique needs of developing brains experiencing crisis and housing instability by reducing wait times to be connected to resources and sharing in the labour of building an appropriate care team.

That youth experiencing crisis and housing instability are kind, talented, dynamic human beings whose brains are still developing. Like any other youth they are navigating the world around them, determining the paths they will take in the future. They deserve the same space and grace we give all youth.

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The Edmonton Coordinated Youth Response

In May 2020 the City of Edmonton was in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the EXPO Centre was opened to support adults experiencing housing instability in their isolation and pandemic needs. Immediately, youth-servicing agencies noticed a significant gap in pandemic supports for youth aged 15–25.

The indoor public spaces and buildings that young people accessed during the day were no longer accessible, public transit was unavailable, and they were prohibited from being outside in public spaces. To further limit support for them, many agencies were closing for weeks at a time with quarantines. It was clear that much stronger collaboration and communication was needed to support youth in crisis during this time and in September 2020, YESS co-launched the Edmonton Coordinated Youth Response with our youth agency partners, Boyle Street Community Services and iHuman Youth Society.

The Edmonton Coordinated Youth Response (CYR) is a growing group of youth-serving agencies across the city committed to ensuring that young people receive timely, trauma-informed access to basic needs, pandemic support, and same-day virtual connections to other agencies. Through the CYR online platform, young people can access food, shelter, clothing, and housing connections from various agencies as well as access screening, testing, and safe isolation.

The CYR includes youth-serving agencies, schools, and secondary service partners such as Children’s Services and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS). In January 2021, the Edmonton Coordinated Youth Response was given an Indigenous name by Elder Kokum Rose Wabasca: kanaweyim oskayak (pronounced CAN-ah-WEEM oh-SKY- YAK), which means “taking care of the youth.” And, as of February 2021, young people can access or get information on kanaweyim oskayak by texting or calling 211. The Coordinated Youth Response, kanayweim oskayak, is also a pilot project to practice coordination and integration between agencies within our Youth Agency Collaboration (YAC) work to build a long-term, city-wide plan for a collaboration, integrated network of care model for the prevention of youth homelessness.

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