Hearing from the youth: QTBIPOC Youth Gathering

February 28, 2017

By Ayesh Ismail-Kanani, youth worker at QMUNITY

In 2016 the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA) and the Vancouver School Board brought together a group of passionate youth support workers to talk about making safer spaces for queer, trans, Two-Spirit, intersex, black, indigenous, people of colour (QTBIPOC) youth. As a group there was a shared understanding that the best way to inform change in the services and resources available was to ask the youth themselves about what they need. The team got to work on putting together a day long QTBIPOC Youth Gathering event that was held on January 30th 2017.

Youth who participated in the gathering got the chance to talk about their experiences, to connect with each other, to make art, and to generate a resources that can inform change in important spaces in their lives.

As one of QMUNITY’s Youth Workers, I was invited to co-facilitate a brainstorm session held with around 30 youth who all had different life experiences and knowledge. Youth were asked what support and safer spaces looked like to them, what their experiences were, and what they wanted to see.

A beautiful graphic representation, created by Tiaré Jung, was developed as a visual road map that can be used by community members, families, friends, and service providers across British Columbia.

When working with queer, trans and Two-Spirit, intersex people of colour we have to make sure we are listening and ready to take action. The combination of the gathering and this visual document has created a unique opportunity to improve our services and the lives of young people. The workers at UNYA will be creating presentations for workplaces and community groups to expand upon this project.

At QMUNITY, we will be using these recommendation to inform our programming, and support services. When thinking about a person’s home life, school, community spaces, health care, and beyond, this document teaches us not to make assumption about what it’s like for youth of colour navigating those spaces.