Michael Grant and Shane Rempel – System Planners, Calgary Homeless Foundation

Fifty young people, many currently experiencing homelessness, gathered in Inglewood last July for an evening of community, music and friendship over hot dogs and burgers.

With support from Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF), the Youth Advisory Table (YAT) hosted a barbecue to raise awareness about the YAT and bring together the community, youth at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, and youth-serving agencies in the homeless-serving sector.

The barbecue was made possible thanks to a donation made to YAT from students with the University of Calgary’s Haskayne Commerce Undergraduate Society. The students raised the funds through their participation in 5 Days for the Homeless, a national campaign run by the Canadian Association of Business Students that strives to raise awareness and donations for members of society that are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Approximately 50 youth were in attendance at the barbecue. They all received a drawstring bag filled with “summer essential care items,” including a facecloth, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand sanitizer, travel conditioner, shampoo, bar soap, razors, shaving cream, hairbrush, comb, water bottle, deodorant and feminine hygiene products.

Shane Rempel, a System Planner with CHF said, “As we shape policy and design programs to serve youth in need, we must ensure our ears are open to those who we are serving—the youth. The Youth Advisory Table gives us that crucial lens from the perspective of young people with lived experience in homelessness and keeps us tethered to the real need in the City of Calgary.”

The 2018 Point-In-Time Count of homelessness in Calgary found approximately 11 per cent of the 2,911 people experiencing homelessness are under the age of 18, and a further seven percent are aged 18-24.

Events like this barbecue are important because it allows youth to have their voices heard, to connect with youth with similar experiences, connect with agencies and services, and most of all — to have fun.

The YAT is a group of individuals between the ages of 14 and 25 with lived experience of homelessness. YAT members provide valuable insights that influence policy, improve services and raise awareness about youth homelessness. The YAT is also a subsidiary of the Youth Sector Committee which is comprised of several stakeholders and organizations in the youth-serving sector.