On July 20th, Making the Shift’s In Conversation webinar series welcomed its first guest, Métis scholar Jesse Thistle. Jesse authored the "Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada" in 2017 and more recently, his national bestselling memoir “From The Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding my Way”. The event was co-hosted by MtS’ Scholars With Lived Experience Network (LivEx), a peer-led network that builds capacity, mentorship and training by and for students and academics with lived experience of youth homelessness. 

Watch the recording here

Joining Jesse in the conversation was Stephen Gaetz, President & CEO, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH), and Jayne Malenfant, PhD Candidate at McGill University and co-founder of MtS LivEx.The event began with Jesse describing how he worked in collaboration with Indigenous communities to draft the Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada, and how he continues to draw upon his own journey navigating homelessness in his youth to inform his approach to conducting research today. 

“From the outset, we understood that In order to articulate Indigenous homelessness properly, we needed to empower Indigenous knowledge. And define Indigenous homelessness from an Indigenous perspective.” 

– Jesse Thistle

Take a look at the Infographic for the definition of Indigenous homelessness in Canada

For Jesse, the Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada has created a common language to center Indigenous ways of knowing, and calls attention to the crisis of Indigenous homelessness. It also highlights the importance of involving those who have lived experience of homelessness in all aspects of research and practice. 

Jesse also gave the audience a narrative-style recount of his written memoir From The Ashes as a youth moving between homes across Canada, along with his battles with addiction in the 1990s. Jesse shared that when he was approached by publishers to write a memoir he saw it as an opportunity to educate the public on his experience navigating homelessness. Jesse also shared his personal challenges and opportunities of bringing his lived experience into his research, and considerations of how to disclose personal stories of experience safely and ethically when conducting research on homelessness. 

In Conversation is a webinar series highlighting the work of thought leaders in research, policy, and practice to inform the shift away from emergency response towards youth homelessness prevention and exits in Canada. 

Register now for our next In Conversation Webinar: The State of Canadian Child Wellbeing and The Role of Natural Supports in Youth Homelessness Prevention with Lisa Wolff (UNICEF Canada) and Justin Sage-Passant (Covenant House), moderated by Alex Nelson (PhD Candidate, Western University and LivEx Scholar) on Wednesday Oct 14th 11AM-12PM EDT