There is a growing global movement to support young people better and fulfill their rights. On November 20th, 2019 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child will reach its 30th anniversary. As recently as 2017, experts and people with lived experience of homelessness came together to discuss how nation states ought to enact their responsibilities outlined in the UN General Comment 21 on Children in Street Situations. Canada has been an active participant in these discussions, but there is still a long way to go to ensure everyone young person’s rights are fully respected and actualized.
Across Canada people with lived experience of youth homelessness are calling for change. No longer should young people be bounced between disconnected systems and languish in the precarity and trauma of homelessness until they are ‘homeless enough’ or ‘complex enough’ to qualify for support. They are calling on people in power to respond to youth homelessness rapidly and more effectively. They are demanding youth homelessness prevention.
What is youth homelessness prevention? Why are prevention approaches essential within community and government strategies to end homelessness? How is youth homelessness prevention being put into practice across Canada? These are some of the questions we set out to explore in the October 2019 edition of Parity magazine: Preventing and Sustaining Exits from Youth Homelessness in Canada.
On the 14th of October 2019, the Council to Homeless Persons, based out of Melbourne, Australia, released this first Canadian edition of its national publication on homelessness, Parity magazine. Each edition of Parity features varying perspectives on homelessness, from personal to global. It is a low-barrier publication, inviting people from a wide range of backgrounds and areas of expertise to lend their voices to editions centred around specific themes or geographical locations. People with lived experience are encouraged to contribute written pieces and/or artwork, putting their voices at the centre of the discussions on homelessness locally and globally.
The October 2019 edition embraces the idea that preventative solutions to youth homelessness are within reach. Communities are transforming their services and governments from all orders should take note.
Grounded in The Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness, the edition is a compendium of articles from researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, and people with lived experience of youth homelessness. Readers will learn about the latest thinking around how to prevent youth homelessness, and explore real-world examples of programs and approaches that are having an impact in Canada.
Much of the artwork for the October 2019 edition was contributed by young people that have experienced youth homelessness at some point in their lives. The photos, paintings, drawings and other pieces ground the edition in the creativity of these youth, adding depth and life to the articles.
We encourage you to read the articles and share this edition widely to start conversations around youth homelessness prevention with your communities, coworkers, political representatives, and other changemakers. We are seeing the amazing impacts of preventative approaches on outcomes for young people and are responding to the call for change from people with lived experience of youth homelessness.
Young people cannot afford to wait patiently for us to reimagine and redesign our systems and services with and for them. Their needs are known and the answer is clear: The time for prevention is now, not later.
The October 2019 edition was sponsored by Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab, a Government of Canada funded Network of Centres of Excellence co-led by A Way Home Canada and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and housed at York University. A Steering Committee with research and youth homelessness practitioner representatives from across Canada supported the development of the edition.
An official Canadian launch event is taking place in Edmonton, Alberta at iHuman Youth Society in the evening on Monday, November 4th to celebrate the edition with refreshments and artwork.
You can download the October 2019 edition of Parity magazine on the Homeless Hub here, or read the articles over the coming weeks as we feature them in the Homeless Hub weekly newsletter.
Special thanks to:
Noel Murray, the editor of Parity and the team at Council to Homeless Persons
Guest Editor: Amanda Buchnea, A Way Home Canada
With Editing Support from: David French, Jayne Malenfant, Mary-Jane McKitterick & Kaitlin Schwan
Steering Committee Members:
Greg Bishop, Saint John Human Development Council
David French, A Way Home Canada
Stephen Gaetz, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness & Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab
Mike Gawliuk, Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna
Kim Kakakaway, Boys and Girls Club of Calgary
Jayne Malenfant, PhD Candidate, McGill University
Shannon Murphy, Indigenous Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care
Melanie Redman, A Way Home Canada & Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab
Kaitlin Schwan, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Ayon Shahed, Choices for Youth
Clay Shaw, Saskatoon Community Youth Arts Program
Elisa Triaficante, Raising the Roof