Calgary Homeless Foundation is proud to announce it has been selected by the Calgary Flames Foundation in the Calgary Hitmen Charity Fundraiser, so you can watch hockey and support the fight against homelessness!
When you buy a ticket to the Calgary Hitmen vs Regina Pats game on February 27, 2022 at 16:00, $5 from every ticket will be donated to a collection of homeless-serving agencies, including Calgary Homeless Foundation.
A huge thank you to Calgary Flames Foundation for their support and collaboration in the fight against homelessness in our city.
Buy your ticket here: https://hitmenhockey.com/single-game-tickets
Youth experiencing homelessness in Calgary will receive an extra boost, thanks to our generous donors who supported us this summer through the program, Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by Altalink, and the initiative, Chip in for Kids.
From February to August 2021, our donors raised a total of nearly $7000 through Birdies for Kids and Chip in for Kids. Shaw Birdies for Kids is the charitable program of Shaw Charity Classic, the golf tournament, and Chip in for Kids is the text-to-donate initiative launched by the tournament in 2020 to raise funds for youth charities throughout the pandemic.
Shaw has already matched Chip in for Kids donations and will match all Birdies for Kids donations by up to 50%, increasing the impact of each contribution. We will then allocate the donations to eight youth-serving programs we fund in Calgary.
Over the past eight years, Birdies for Kids has raised over $61 million for more than 200 kids and youth-based charities in Alberta. This summer marked our first time participating in the program, and we thank Shaw Charity Classic for giving us the opportunity, and our donors for their support.
Today is of great significance, as it marks Orange Shirt Day and National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Calgary Homeless Foundation carries out its work on the traditional land of the Blackfoot Confederacy – Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, and the Treaty 7 territory, which includes T’suu T’ina and Stoney Nakoda (which is comprised of Chiniki, Bearspaw and Wesley First Nations). As we guide the fight against homelessness in our city, we acknowledge the disproportionate number of individuals experiencing homelessness who come from an Indigenous background.
Any strategy designed to see Calgary win the battle against homelessness must acknowledge and respond to this reality. Our goal is to continue to build knowledge and understanding within our organization regarding the marginalization of Indigenous peoples and enhance relationships with Treaty 7 leaders, Elders, and the urban Indigenous community. In so doing, we will become more effective in guiding and aligning service providers to meet the needs of their Indigenous program participants.
In our Guiding the Fight Against Homelessness: Focus to 2025 strategic plan, we have prioritized the support for implementing an Indigenous-centric homeless-serving system of care. We will do this by promoting the reconciliation necessary to break down barriers by giving, receiving, listening, and reaching out in love.
In support of National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has organized a program that will allow all of us to participate in a meaningful way in this reconciliation process.
I encourage you all to join me in taking time to reflect, honour and support each other through this collective reconciliation journey.
Calgary Homeless Foundation continues to mourn, alongside our Indigenous partners and communities, the devastating finds at Canadian residential schools. We are committed to reconciliation and acknowledging the truth of the atrocities and trauma Indigenous People experience in Canada. We share in this grief and sorrow and supports the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Support is available:
- National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line:1-866-925-4419. This line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their Residential school experience.
- Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary:403-801-7482. Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary’s Elder line is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. for individuals in need of support.
- Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society’s 24 Hour Crisis Line:403-531-1972 or 403-531-1976.
- 211 Alberta:Call 2-1-1, Text INFO to 211, or Chat with 211 at https://ab.211.ca/
- Distress Centre’s 24-Hour Support Line:403-266-HELP (4357)
I encourage you all to join me in taking time to reflect, honour and support each other through this collective reconciliation journey.
2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness or living in precarious housing are reconnecting with family and friends, thanks to training offered by the Centre for Sexuality and funded by Calgary Homeless Foundation.
The Centre for Sexuality, a Calgary-based organization that seeks to normalize sexuality and sexual health, has begun delivering Natural Supports Training to a select number of youth-focused, homeless-serving agencies in Calgary, including Distress Centre, Children’s Cottage Society, Trellis Society, Discovery House, Calgary John Howard Society, and The Alex.
The training, funded by Calgary Homeless Foundation, teaches agencies how to foster natural supports—or the relationships between 2SLGBTQ+ youth, their friends, and families—so youth can remain housed. It includes training plan development and professional support to leadership and staff.
“For many 2SLGBTQ+ youth, experiencing rejection from their friends and family is an unfortunate reality,” says Dori Palmiere, Training Centre Team Lead at Centre for Sexuality. “Reducing these behaviours from their natural supports is critical, and often this has meant removing the youth from their natural supports to prevent ongoing rejection.”
She says the natural supports framework encourages staff to work with families in a different way. “We draw on their values and strengths to encourage connection, support, and acceptance of the 2SLGBTQ+ youth in their lives. We’re prioritizing connection as a basic need.”
Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation, says, “Our work to guide the fight against homelessness is focused on ensuring that when homelessness is experienced, it is rare, brief and non-recurring—perhaps an episode in someone’s life, but never a condition that defines it,”
She adds: “By funding this training through the Centre for Sexuality, we support homeless-serving agencies in strengthening and reconnecting vulnerable 2SLGBTQ+ youth with natural supports. Together, we prevent or limit 2SLGBTQ+ youths’ experiences of homelessness, connecting them with appropriate housing and supports they need to thrive.”
So far, staff from the Distress Centre have attended the first of three training sessions. The training has been positively received. One participant says, “I liked bringing the training into my real-life work and being encouraged to reflect on the material over a period of time.”
“The reflection process has been important for me and helps keep the information front of mind,” another participant says. “I find myself integrating the principles into my work as a result.”
As of August 26, 2021, there were 101 youth, aged 24 and under, awaiting housing with supports in Calgary. Of those 101 youth, 23 have identified an interest in 2SLGBTQ+ specific supports. The Natural Supports Training is therefore a timely and necessary service for creating a positive, lasting impact on the lives of these youth.
To learn more about the Centre for Sexuality, and their work, visit: www.centreforsexuality.ca.
In honour of Calgary Pride Week, Calgary Homeless Foundation is shining a light on 2SLGBTQ+ youth and the agencies helping them find a home where they can feel safe and free to be themselves.
As of August 26, 2021, 101 youth, aged 24 and under, are awaiting housing with supports in Calgary. Out of those 101, 23 have identified an interest in 2SLGBTQ+ supports.
According to the 2016 study, “Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey,” 29.5% of youth experiencing homelessness in Canada identify as 2SLGBTQ+. The survey notes this overrepresentation is a result of homophobia and transphobia in families, schools, and communities, which make it difficult for young people to remain at home.
These unique challenges demonstrate why homeless-serving programs for 2SLGBTQ+ youth in Calgary are so important. With the support of the Government of Alberta, Calgary Homeless Foundation recognized and responded to this need, funding programs like Aura, run by Trellis Society.
The Aura program supports 2SLGBTQ+ youth, aged 14-24, who are experiencing homelessness by helping them find appropriate housing where their gender identity and sexual orientation is respected and celebrated.
We spoke with Kim Ledene (she/her), Program Director at Trellis, to find out more about the Aura program and the unique challenges that 2SLGBTQ+ youth face as they journey home.
Can you tell us more about the need for a program like Aura in our city?
The Aura program is proud to support a caseload of 10 youth at any given time. In 2021, it has supported 14 youth to date. However, there are far more youth who could use this type of program in Calgary.
Can you tell us more about the supports offered by the Aura program?
The Aura program provides intensive, one-on-one case management as well as housing supports, with the aim of helping youth develop the life skills and the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health necessary to be independent adults.
Through case management, our team works with youth to set goals and to access systems that support their physical and mental health, including any challenges they may have with addiction. Youth also receive support in the areas of employment, education, and making cultural connections.
In addition, we connect youth with their family and friends so they have natural support networks that can assist their growth into adulthood and independence.
What impact does this program have on the lives of the youth it serves?
Youth have consistently given us the feedback that the Aura program makes them feel supported and encouraged during such a challenging time. Youth who have been supported by the program have told us:
- “Aura has given me a reason to have hope.”
- “The people I’ve met make me happy & feel not alone.”
- “The openness and support of the staff, their willingness to help – whether it’s a drive somewhere to getting trans confirming gear.”
Can you describe the unique experience of a 2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness and the contributing factors?
Rejection is one of the major reasons kids leave home, and 2SLGBTQ+ face a lot of unique barriers and challenges that leave them feeling rejected as if they don’t belong.
According to Dr. Alex Abramovich, family rejection is the primary reason for youth homelessness. In addition, program design often challenges 2SLGBTQ+ identities through things like dorm set-up, washrooms and intake paperwork.
This is why it is incredibly important to support programs and organizations that are offering supports and services that are specifically geared towards making 2SLGBTQ+ feel accepted and encouraged to be who they are.
If you or someone you know is a 2SLGBTQ+ youth in need of supports, what resources would you suggest?
Two-Spirited identifying youth can reach out to Trellis’ Iiyika’kimaat Program. This program supports Indigenous youth and offers a very inclusive space. The team can connect the youth to affirming elders, if requested.
Trellis offers a youth program called Proudly every Tuesday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm and it is for 2SLGBTQ+ identified or questioning youth aged 13-24. Each week there are games, activities and guest speakers. Come hang out, ask questions and have fun!
Other organizations in the city doing great work with 2SLGBTQ+ youth include the Centre for Sexuality and Calgary Outlink.
How can 2SLGBTQ+ youth in need of support connect with the Aura program?
Youth looking to access the Aura program must complete an assessment through SORCe to be eligible. To book an assessment or find hours of operation for SORCE, please call 587-779-5015.
How can Calgarians support 2SLGBTQ+ youth at risk of or experiencing homelessness?
Calgarians can support 2SLGBTQ+ youth by being kind and supporting organizations that create safe spaces. We also encourage Calgarians to reflect on their own attitudes and biases. Everyone is looking to be accepted and to feel like they belong in the community, and this is no different for 2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness.
On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Calgary Homeless Foundation celebrated its third annual – but first virtual – Trail Blazer Breakfast, in support of our work to guide the fight against homelessness in the city.
Thank you so much to our sponsors, our speakers, and to all who attended and supported us in this incredible event. You helped raise over $130,000 towards guiding the fight to end homelessness in Calgary!
Now, more than ever, home is a place of solace and safety, and the event – which attracted over 350 attendees online – proved that the connection, dedication, and shared will to end homelessness is as strong as ever.
We kicked off this year’s Trail Blazer Breakfast with a distinguished panel on youth homelessness, followed by our keynote speaker, Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honorable Roméo A. Dallaire, who shared his reflections about our shared humanity and what gives him hope for the future. To round it out, we honoured Timothy J. Hearn, the recipient of our 2021 Trail Blazer Legacy Award.
Again, it is with immense gratitude that we thank our sponsors and speakers, and all the attendees who continue to support our work in guiding the fight against homelessness. With your help, Calgary Homeless Foundation is working towards a future where every Calgarian has a place to call home, with access to the supports they need to thrive.
“Waking up in the morning and seeing the sun…knowing a communion between humanity and the planet is possible. There is an enormous amount of effort from our youth who want to see humanity thrive, not just survive. I see the young people of our nation wanting to move in and be partners in the decision process and engage in our future. The ultimate hope that I live with is that I live, as you do, in an extraordinary country, a nation that has values and depth sought by so many.”
– General Dallaire, speaking about what gives him hope
Lieutenant-General Dallaire calls on us to recognize the shared humanity that binds us and imposes a duty to help one another.
Dallaire – who is the founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership with the mission to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers – also spoke about the ways in which veterans and child soldiers experience homelessness.
He then shared his reflections on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can apply the lessons gleaned from his experiences to our efforts in building healthy communities.
We thank General Dallaire for sharing his story, and for providing valuable insight that we can apply to our lives and work.
2021 Trail Blazer Legacy Award: Honouring Calgary leader, Timothy J. Hearn
Thank you, Tim Hearn, for your continued dedication to ending homelessness. You are a true visionary that has had a life-changing impact on the lives of many people, while inspiring countless others to step up to join the charge. Thank you for being a force of lasting change in our community, and beyond.
Panel Discussion: Ending Youth Homelessness in Calgary
In 2018, Calgary conducted a Point-in-Time Count to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness in our city on any given night. Of the 2,911 people who were identified during the count, 18% (524) were youth and children.
Youth homelessness is unique and requires a different approach than that taken in addressing adult homelessness.
Trail Blazer Breakfast host Dave Kelly – alongside Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation – engaged in a discussion with an expert panel on youth homelessness in Calgary. The panel featured:
- Jeff Dyer, CEO of Trellis;
- Soraya Saliba, Executive Director, McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association, and
- Leslie McMechan, Executive Director, Calgary John Howard Society.
“The key for me, is to address the misconception that youth homelessness is a result of youth behaviour. The fact is, youth are homeless based on our whole community’s systemic barriers, breakdowns and exclusions. Address that and hope returns.”
Jeff Dyer, CEO, Trellis
Thank you to our sponsors for helping to make this event a reality.
The success of this event was largely due to our Trail Blazer Breakfast ambassadors who championed the event. Thank you for generating excitement and spreading the word about the breakfast.
And to each and every one of our partners, thank you for the life-changing work that you do every day.
Until next year, thank you for being a part of Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Trail Blazer Breakfast.
Calgary Homeless Foundation is proud to announce that Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation, will bring her insights and expertise to a government-led working group tasked with revitalizing downtown Calgary.
Patricia is one of twelve members appointed to The Calgary Office Revitalization and Expansion (CORE) Working Group, co-chaired by Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer and Calgary-Currie MLA Nicholas Milliken. The working group, which includes representatives from a cross-section of stakeholders, seeks to provide a road map for rejuvenating Calgary’s downtown area so that it remains a vibrant, healthy, and inclusive place for all to live and work.
“As we build and reimagine a revitalized downtown core, Calgary Homeless Foundation is honoured to continue guiding the fight against homelessness by bringing the perspectives of vulnerable Calgarians to the table,” Patricia says.
She adds: “I am humbled and privileged to be a part of a group that allows me the opportunity to speak up for Calgarians whose voices may not always be heard. I look forward to collaborating with such a knowledgeable cross-section of Calgarians.”
Calgary’s downtown vacancy rate has remained at 32.3 per cent throughout the first quarter of 2021 — a stark contrast to a healthy downtown vacancy rate of eight per cent, according to the Government of Alberta. Organizations across Calgary, including the city council, have already undertaken research and planning initiatives that seek to address the issues facing the downtown core.
The working group will assess existing findings and recommendations presented by the co-chairs, determine their feasibility, engage with Calgarians in town halls over the spring and summer, and provide a clear path forward for all three orders of government and the private sector. The working group is expected to submit its final report to the government by September 30.
Patricia says the mandate of the working group presents a rare opportunity to address the long-standing deficit in affordable housing in the city.
Currently, only 3.6% of households in Calgary are supported by non-market housing, compared to 6% of households nationwide. To reach the 2016 national average, Calgary would need to add approximately 15,000 new affordable housing units.
“With this working group, we have the opportunity to address the needs of all our citizens. Calgary Homeless Foundation has a unique line of sight that enables us to advise governments on innovative solutions for vulnerable Calgarians, so we can thrive together as we move forward.”
For more information about the working group, please visit the Government of Alberta’s online announcement.