Community

Community Spotlight: The Pride Centre of Edmonton

Interview with Esjay Lafayette, Executive Director of the Pride Centre of Edmonton

 

Tell us about yourself and your organization!

My name is Esjay Lafayette (he/him) and I am the Executive Director of the Pride Centre of Edmonton (PCE). I joined the PCE team in 2020 as the Operations Manager and became the ED in October 2022—prior to that, I worked as an electrician but a combination of factors (turning 40, the brink of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement) motivated me to change careers. I wanted to dedicate my time and skillset to helping the community rather than just making money for an industry, which aligned with an opportunity at the PCE. With the expertise of Pe Metawe Consulting, we are implementing a new strategic plan, committed to the advancement of all 2SLGBTQIA+ people but with a specific focus on three key groups: youth, trans and gender diverse people, and queer asylum seekers and newcomers. When I’m not at work, you can find me hanging out with my partner, two teenagers, and dog, Samson; skateboarding, or watching reruns of M.A.S.H. and The Golden Girls.

 

What kinds of programs and support does the Pride Centre offer, and how do you see the impact of these programs?

The PCE offers an accessible, trauma-informed, judgement-free space and support systems for people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, and the people in their lives. Our programming includes:

  • Free drop-in counselling sessions every Tuesday and Thursday with intern therapists, via our partnership with The Family Centre;
  • In-person and virtual youth programming (ages 13 to 24) every Wednesday evening;
  • Gender affirming wares programming which includes a community closet – people can access second-hand garments and jewelry, new undergarments, toiletries, and seasonal clothing at absolutely no cost;
  • The Binder Exchange Program, which provides community members with gently used binders, gift cards for gender affirming gear, and binder fittings and education for safe wear, free of charge;
  • The largest queer library in Alberta, which includes YA fiction and books for children 12 and under, is available to the PCE members — memberships are $25 or sliding scale. We also offer fee waivers, so memberships are accessible to all;
  • Support for queer asylum seekers through a partnership with EMCN’s (Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers) Rainbow Refuge program and LGBTQ+ Newcomers Group, and support letters for refugee hearings and advocacy work;
  • Information and referral wayfinding, from housing to food insecurity.

During public hours, people can utilize various equipment and services in our space, including: washing facilities and public washrooms, computers and charges, printing, a games room, a sensory room, art supplies, light refreshments, a community kitchen for baking and cooking, and a community fridge, freezer, and pantry.

At the PCE, we see the impacts of our programming on a daily basis—by meeting people where they are at, we’re able to mitigate a lot of loneliness and isolation. By developing trust and healthy relationships with community members and other organizations, we’re able to build connections, bridge gaps, and remove barriers to resources. Safety is one of our top priorities, therefore the resources and information we provide to community members is vetted to the best of our ability, as are the people and collectives we collaborate with.

 

Like YESS, the Pride Centre has a long legacy in Edmonton. How does the centre continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community? Why is it important to still have dedicated safe spaces for the 2SLGBTQ+ community?

In addition to our new strategic plan, the PCE has applied for support from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) to action this plan. We are also working with CASA on a one-year pilot program that will provide community members with access to a registered social worker.

These steps were taken after engaging with community and gathering feedback—our evolution, as both an organization and as frontline workers, is directly linked to listening, observing, believing, and responding accordingly to those who access our services and programs.

Ironically, increased societal acceptance and queer visibility has created more danger for, particularly, identifiable 2SLGBTQIA+ people. The political climate in the States has a contingent in Alberta that is vocally homophobic, especially towards trans and gender diverse folks which creates safety issues. Most of the community members who access the PCE do not have social capital. They are typically lower income with intersecting identities, and their queerness is just the cherry on top of all the other barriers they face. These community members in particular deserve dedicated safe spaces to engage in human connection without the threat of being targeted for who they fundamentally are. It’s also important that a city the size of Edmonton and the surrounding areas provide multiple safe spaces for the queer community that include options for youth under 18 and don’t involve alcohol.

 

Pride is about activism, but it is also a celebration! What is the impact of the 2SLGBTQ+ community having opportunities to celebrate themselves and share joy?

Just like hurt and pain are integral to the human experience, so is joy and celebration. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, and even more so for those generations before me, there was virtually no diverse queer representation, and limited opportunities to come together and celebrate in safety. Historically, our pain and suffering was focused on. We were often depicted as sick and/or dangerous. My mom struggled immensely when I came out as trans. She worried terribly that I could not live a fulfilling life as a trans person. Her experience is not unique for many guardians of queer folks, but also for queer people themselves. These feelings of despair are directly a result of the absence of balanced, truthful representations of queer people and our experiences. The impact of people openly expressing and celebrating who they are helps counter the myth that being queer equals an unhappy life, it provides hope for people who do not feel safe or ready to come out, and it is a form of speaking truth to power. There are a lot of people in power locally and globally who still don’t want us around, so queer joy and celebration is absolutely a form of resistance.

 

What is one thing you wish the community knew about the Pride Centre?

There is a lot of diversity amongst the PCE community. We serve a large demographic of people, with many intersecting identities and barriers, but our team is small. There are four core staff members, myself included, striving to make deep, systemic changes in the way our organization operates while continuing to offer frontline services and balance our own wellbeing. However, we are beginning to run on fumes, and our financial situation is currently precarious—donations are greatly needed, as is advocating for the PCE, so we can continue to evolve and expand and increase our capacity, which will ultimately increase the impact of the work we do.

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Thank You to Vans!

Our friends at Vans are monthly donors to YESS by providing footwear and clothing for youth. Last month, Vans and the Vans Community Fund went above and beyond and donated $16,178.40 to YESS.

This donation will remain within our community, supporting those who need it most.

 

Tell us why you choose to support YESS?

We support YESS because we see it as a positive institution delivering real change in the lives of youth experiencing homelessness in our community.

 

How does Vans give back to the community?

Within our community Vans gives back through store donations of gently used and nonsalable product to organizations helping youth and families in need. Vans also donates product for Go Skate Day, and during the Fort Mac fires, Vans sent an entire semi-trailer of product up from California to help families in need. Each family got a free meal, pair of shoes, and piece of clothing. They’ve also been spotted helping out the arts scene here in Edmonton!

 

Why is it important for Van’s to support the community?

The community is who supports us, so we need to do the same for them!

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Community Spotlight: Edmonton Public Library

Tell us about yourself and your position at EPL!

My name is Cassidy Munro, and I am the Community Librarian at the Strathcona Branch of the Edmonton Public Library! I’ve been a Community Librarian with EPL for almost 7 years now. As a Community Librarian, my role is to connect with the community and find out more about their needs and the barriers they face and work with them to see how the library can support them. It also includes working closely with community partners like YESS.

I love working at the library because we do offer so much to so many different people. Truly everyone can and does use the library, and I love helping make that possible. One of my favourite parts of my job is surprising someone with a service or resource they didn’t know we could offer. I also get to come out into the community and connect with people where they’re at—like YESS youth.

 

How do EPL and YESS collaborate to create safety and community for people who need it most?

EPL and YESS have collaborated in a number of ways over the years. Some of this work has been looking at policies and procedures and sharing that research widely with the youth-serving community so that youth can feel welcome and included everywhere they may go. It has also looked like offering programming both at YESS locations and in the library. Sometimes programming meets specific needs, and sometimes it’s a fun way to explore a library resource while allowing EPL staff to connect with and build relationships with those who YESS serves. Button making and, more recently, robotics have been really popular. By building these relationships where young people already feel safe and have community, we are able to support them better with safety and community when they do come to the library to use a computer, borrow something, or just hang out. [possible blockquote] I’ve had young people tell me that they never would have felt comfortable coming to the library and asking for help from EPL staff if we hadn’t met previously at YESS’ Armoury Resource Centre.

 

What is one thing you wish the wider community knew about people who access resources like YESS?

Asking for help is HARD. Even though it is absolutely not a weakness to need help, asking for it can feel so vulnerable. I wish people could see the true strength of people who access resources like YESS because they are doing hard things every day just by being open to support and help.

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Community Spotlight: Bissell Centre

Tell us about yourself and your position at Bissell!

Hi! I’m Nola Visser, the Manager of Permanent Supportive Housing with Bissell Centre. I have been with Bissell for about a year and a half and in that time have had the opportunity to work with the team at Hope Terrace. Hope Terrace is supportive housing for adults who have been diagnosed with FASD and have experienced houselessness. At Hope Terrace, each resident has their own suite and we have staff on site 24/7 to provide different supports for everyone who lives there. Recently, we have moved into the King Edward Park neighborhood. Before moving here, we were located near the Stadium downtown. My work focuses on working with the team to provide wholistic, wrap around supports for those living in the building and engaging with the community of King Edward Park. I am passionate about community engagement and am looking forward to continuing to build strong partnerships with the King Edward Park Community. Many of my favorite moments so far have been seeing the positive and healthy impact supportive housing has on the residents who live in our building.

 

How does Bissell provide safe spaces to meet your clients where they’re at?

At Hope Terrace and Bissell at large we cultivate a culture of trust and dignity. We have cultivated this culture by building meaningful relationships with the residents which allows them to feel safe and free to be themselves. In our building we have created a few different safe spaces that help us meet our residents where they are at. In our common area, we have created a welcoming space where residents can come and share a meal together, watch TV, play X-Box, color or simply just hang out with staff. Hope Terrace also has a Snoezelen Room. This room is a multi-sensory room that helps people regulate when they are feeling scared, angry, sad, happy or just need a moment to recalibrate. Many of our residents use this space to meet with staff to talk through difficulties or challenges that come up for them throughout the day. We also work towards ensuring residents feel that their home is safe. This is done through wellness checks and meeting with residents in their home to discuss supports they need or any goals they are looking for us to support them in.

 

How do Bissell and YESS collaborate to create a community for people who need it most?

YESS and Bissell have begun collaborating by striving to be good neighbors in our communities. Recently, we have begun doing community safety walks. This is an amazing way for our organizations to work together to build a safe and vibrant community for people who are accessing our services. Twice a day, YESS and Bissell, walk through both neighborhoods and pick up any garbage they see. During these walks, we also support any community member who may be looking for support or a safe place to go. We also meet regularly together with multiple different neighborhood groups to advocate and work together so that the people accessing our services feel safe and welcomed, not only in our buildings and programs but in the communities, they live in.

 

What is one thing you wish the wider community knew about people who access resources like Bissell?

 I wish the wider community knew how incredibly innovative, passionate and joyful our residents are. They all bring something unique and special to the table and are looking for different ways to engage in activities and communities using their own strengths.

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Spotlight on the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council

February is Black History Month! Here at YESS, we support a community of youth as diverse as the wider community. We have collaborated with the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council (ACCEC) in previous programs and continue to engage with their work.

ACCEC is a Black-led, Black-founded registered NGO that promotes and strengthens opportunities for African, Caribbean, Black, and Racialized Communities. The African Canadian Civic Engagement Council’s (ACCEC) mandate is to protect and promote all people of African descent’s dignity and human rights while celebrating our people’s significant contributions to society and worldwide.

ACCEC is based in Edmonton, but works nationally, and is an innovative program in the Alberta landscape.

We worked with ACCEC within our Cohort Transitional Residence Pilot Project in 2021-2022. This pilot program cam specifically from the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic that made it difficult for youth to build positive connections. The program used “family-like” cohorts of 3-5 youth to bolster safe and meaningful peer interactions that created “bubbles” that meant youth were safe to not wear masks and to minimize social distancing within their cohorts in the program.

This highly autonomous program saw changes in the trajectory of many youth who had previously been termed “difficult to house” or who had been trapped in homelessness by a myriad of barriers. This “Bridge Housing” style program had the same core purpose of giving individuals experiencing homelessness a safer space to exist in, given the health risks associated with crowded shelters during a global pandemic. The primary objective of Bridge Housing programs is to provide a safe place to live while waiting for a permanent housing to come through, with a target goal of 6-month maximum stay. We used this base and broadened our approach to include the social, emotional, and psychological development impacts that the pandemic was having on youth in particular, as the work that all youth do in their adolescence in these areas was being stunted by isolation and missed opportunities.

Around this same time, ACCEC was developing their own stabilization program. The African, Caribbean & Black Stabilization Program (ACB Program) was initially funded by the province and started out as a COVID response model that recognized the importance of belonging, connection, promoting meaningful relationships, and working with youth families and natural supports.

This program found a home with its own cohort of four beds at the Cohort Transitional Residence Pilot Project. Focused on building connections, healing from trauma, and empowering youth to achieve their goals, this collaboration between ACCEC and YESS was a natural fit. ACCEC’s Afrocentric model to create a therapeutic environment is based on the African traditions of sanofka (the belief that people must return to their roots to move forward, from the Akan language in  Ghana) and ubuntu (“I am because you are,” a philosophy from South Africa).

“It’s rooted in relationship. It’s rooted in community. It’s rooted in healing. It’s rooted in accountability — so that’s what helps a lot of these youth heal,” said Dunia Nur, president of ACCEC, in an interview with CBC in 2021.

By collaborating, both ACCEC and YESS were able to benefit from a specific Afrocentric perspective and the diverse staff that were available to youth.

“You start to see this amazing community collaboration of staff and youth from so many different walks of life being like, ‘Hey, we can be safe and vulnerable here,’” Alice Mwemera, who was then the supervisor of the Cohort Program and is now involved in program research and development at YESS, told CBC in an interview. “So instead, I can get to know you as a person and you can get to know me. How cool is that?”

 


 

Learn more about the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council on their website at accec.ca

Read the CBC article “’Rooted in healing’: New housing facility gives marginalized Black youth a place to rebuild” by Andrea Huncar here

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The Community Safety and Well-being Grant with the City of Edmonton

A Reflection from Jessica Day, Director of Program Innovation at YESS

 

When I first heard we were applying for this grant, it was while we were in the midst of sorting through the hurt and emotions and confusions within our community and neighbourhood on Whyte Ave. YESS has been working directly with EPS, the City of Edmonton, and several community members to try and heal the relationships between our agency, the youth who use our services, and the neighbours who live near our shelter. It was not my first instinct to consider the Community Safety and Well-being Grant  because we were still working on some very real safety concerns on both sides. I didn’t quite know how to market our shelter as meeting the criteria for developing safety within communities as a whole; we weren’t there yet. Grants are a funny process, in that you either have to develop something innovative to convince funders to believe in your project idea, or you have to have established a system of work that is worth investing in for sustainability. Healing with the community did not feel innovative, as we have had to address this in years prior. It also didn’t feel established because I did not know if we had a framework for practice that we could market to others.

It was equally confusing to me when I found out that the City of Edmonton partners and community members had insisted that we apply for the grant, as they felt we were already doing so much to establish the safety and well-being in the community and wanted to support our cause. They spoke to the efforts of our teams to communicate with the youth, host youth forums, tear down camps in the ravine, the collaborative relationships with EPS and the City and the neighbours, hosting meetings, and approaching the issues with a trauma-informed, educational lens. While it started from hurt and chaos, the community was starting to see and understand the work we were doing daily and the efforts done to inspire changes to keep the community safe while we do our work. They had been listening and paying attention and, in the process, wanted to help us sustain this work. I was humbled and I remember the executive team pausing to reflect on this before we gave the green light to apply.

When we heard that we had been accepted as one of 26 grant recipients, we were beyond excited! It was good news and a lot of money that would directly support the sustainability of our Nexus 24/7 sleep shelter. This would help us give youth a soft place to sleep and change the trajectory of their trauma, while also having space and capacity to help educate and support the community so future integration for youth is a possibility. This meant a lot to our team. We were equally excited to attend the formal announcement event with the Mayor and the City of Edmonton counsellors at the Islamic Family and Social Services Association. My fellow Director of Finance, Eddie Gots, and I were asked to attend as Margo was off on vacation and this was our first time attending a grant event like this together. We were proud, excited, and ready to share our vision of what this money could provide to our agency!

At the event, the experience was much bigger than a press event with some finger foods and networking. It was a humbling experiencing to see the number of organizations represented within the room, showing the power and desire for collaboration within our city. The interview was conducted by the Mayor, city counsellors, and the largest collaboration recipients (Islamic Family and Social Services  collaborating with Bent Arrow) who spoke so eloquently about welcoming newcomers to Edmonton and reminding the world that, “Padlocks do not create safety in communities. Safety comes from potlucks and meeting your neighbours.” Potlucks not padlocks was a profound summary of the many projects and groups within that room and it was inspiring to be part of it. We ran into many staff whom we have worked with in the past or in current collaborations and we were all able to celebrate and cheer each other on. It was the first time, in many years, where the focus was on who was working together and how can we connect? Not who was the best or brightest in the room. People were proud of who they were partnering with and the reasons for these partnerships were inspiring. We didn’t feel diminished, we felt included and connected and, after COVID, I was scared we wouldn’t feel this way again.

When I reflect on what this grant and event meant for YESS, I think about how hard we work to establish policies and processes that educate and innovate the pathways to healing from trauma. For staff, for youth, for community members, or for partners. We belong at the table, amongst our peers, not standing on a soapbox fighting for space. And when I reflect on how the community believed in this before we did and how aligned this collaborative work was with the other recipients, I was again humbled by how transformation really does happen through relationship and collaboration. We are all partners in this system and we learn so much from the cultures of and within collaborations and we are stronger for it, not diminished.  I was inspired and I learned, and I know we will work even harder to live up to these standards. What makes me even happier is that we will bring as many people along the journey as we can. Because padlocks don’t build communities, potlucks do!

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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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