TORONTO, Nov. 25, 2014 – Homelessness among newcomer youth and youth born outside of Canada is a hidden problem that needs to be addressed. On November 25, 2014, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto released, Hidden in Our Midst, a new report that sheds light on the issue of homelessness among newcomer youth, and youth born outside of Canada.
Youth homelessness is an increasing concern across Canada, with young people under age 24 making up the fastest growing segment of Canada’s homeless population. The Hidden in Our Midst research report is the first comprehensive report to explore the cross-section of youth homelessness and newcomer status in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and to identify existing service gaps for this group.
The report also draws from the experience of newcomer youth who have been homeless and integrates the perspective of peer researchers, young people recruited to contribute to the research design and to lead focus groups and interviews with homeless newcomer youth across the city. The report was officially launched at an event hosted by Youthlink in Scarborough and was made possible through the collaboration of over 15 agencies that assisted with the study. At the event, peer researchers Cheyanne Ratnam and Carline Casimir shared results and recommendations from the report and discussed their personal experiences as newcomer youth.
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“Research is not meant to occupy shelves, it is meant to propel change from every direction,” said peer researcher Carline Casimir. “My experiences motivate me to be the change.” Fellow peer researcher Cheyanne Ratnam agreed. “We need a coordinated system that works together instead of working in silos,” she said.
A panel discussion with the audience followed and focused on next steps and possible solutions based on the research findings. “Conflicts in newcomer families between newcomer youth and their parents were highlighted in this Study as one of the main pathways to homelessness,” “followed by abuse in the family, insufficient income and lack of employment,” said Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CEO of The Wellesley Institute and Medical Director of Underserved Populations at CAMH. “Youth and family services need to pay closer attention to programs that support families and their children adjust and prevent separations, and homelessness where possible”.
Dr. McKenzie moderated the panel that featured Irwin Elman, Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, David O’Brien from East Metro Youth Services, and Cheyanne Ratnam, peer researcher.
"The lived experience of young people contains a wisdom that can create change,” said Irwin Elman. “This report is an example of what can happen when we reach out to immigrant youth who have experienced homelessness. We must listen and partner with these young people because their success is intrinsic to Ontario’s success.”
CAMH Media Relations
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