15 Mar Collecting With QPID
I am a white, straight, cisgender, female. My knowledge about youth homeless has been informed by my privileges and the resources to which I have had access. I also identify as a white settler, and acknowledge that I benefit from the exploitation of Indigenous communities and land within Kingston and Canada. Queen’s Project on International Development and the Collecting with QPID campaign hold a very special place in my heart as I have been part of the QPID team for three years now. During the CWQ campaign I helped run a virtual cooking class and a trivia session on sexual violence among homeless youth in Kingston.
TRIGGER WARNING: This piece touches on very sensitive material surrounding sexual violence, exploitation, and homelessness. Secondary themes attached to homelessness of addiction, suicide, violence and exploitation towards children and youth will also be discussed. I will include links to some resources at the bottom that I strongly urge anyone feeling triggered to utilize. I also want to remind you all to take care of yourselves and protect your mental and emotional health however you need.
In Canada one in five homeless people are youth, but in Kingston it’s one in three.
Queen’s Project on International Development (QPID) is a student-run development organization that strives to foster development consciousness through education both within and outside of the Queen’s community. On February 28th, 2021, QPID launched their first ever ‘Collecting with QPID’ (CwQ) campaign.
The Collecting With QPID Campaign aimed to take a more holistic and inclusive approach to focus on the community’s needs. QPID announced the CwQ campaign as a rebrand of the campaign formerly known on campus as 5 Days for Youth Homelessness Campaign. Collecting with QPID (CwQ) is a club-created campaign that is not affiliated with the nation-wide 5 Days for Youth Homelessness.
The Kingston Youth Shelter houses 200 youth each year, there is an emergency shelter as well as two transition homes under the umbrella of the Kingston Youth Shelter. The emergency shelter is located at 113 Lower Union Street, and is open 365 days a year with 15 beds open. The Kingston Youth Shelter provides food, shelter, counseling, housing assistance, family support, and so many other amazing programs to try and assist with some of the struggles faced by homeless youth in Kingston. Collecting with QPID aimed to raise money to support this shelter’s valuable work.
I would be remiss if I discussed youth homelessness in Kingston, without highlighting the colonialism and oppression that has resulted in the disproportionate levels of homelessness Indigenous youth face within Kingston and in Canada. Queen’s Project on International Development and MUSE are both affiliated with Queen’s University, which is situated on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee nations (Murray, 2018). Due to colonialism, oppression, and human rights abuses faced by Indigenous communities around Kingston and Canada, Indigenous youth are more vulnerable to homelessness than non-Indigenous youth.
Due to the online nature of this piece, we are not all located on the same Indigenous lands. If you are unaware of what lands you are currently situated or are looking for a good resource, we encourage you to check out native-land.ca to familiarize yourself with the different lands you have resided on/currently reside on and reflect on how you have benefitted from these lands.
Collecting with QPID ran throughout the week of March 1st-5th, with online content during the day, and an interactive event every evening at 5:30, with the exception of Thursday as there was a clothing drive running from 10am-6pm, which resulted in my breezeway being stuffed to the brim with clothing donations for the Kingston Youth Shelter. The CwQ campaign was led by the forces of Sandrine Jacquot and Sive Pausey, the Community Outreach Co-Coordinators, and the winners of the CwQ Beasts award, as well as their committee members, Rylee North, and Claerwen Slen-Dew. I talked to both Sive and Sandrine about what the campaign meant to them by the end of the week.
According to the Community Outreach Coordinators, CwQ aimed to educate and demonstrate the diverse challenges the Kingston Youth Shelter faces and how they are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the Co-Coordinators, Sive, spoke to this by describing CwQ as a campaign which utilizes various methods of collecting for the Kingston Youth Shelter, and was very unique because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although Sive and Sandrine started planning CwQ in January, the idea of rebranding had been tossed around the previous year due to a disconnect between QPID and the 5 Days National Campaign. A key part of the rebrand was trying to collaboratively educate, learn, and donate in ways beyond monetary fundraising. Collecting with QPID was about touching on the aspects of privilege and how we reflect on them. By finding ways to compensate beyond fundraising money, the accessibility of the campaign was improved drastically. Sandrine described CwQ as “an important opportunity for Queen’s students to give back to the Kingston Community”.
On the Wednesday of CwQ (March third), QPID partnered with QSACK, the Queen’s club connected to the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK), to run an education and informative trivia on sexual violence (SV) within the youth homeless community in Kingston, Canada, and abroad. The trivia began with a trigger warning, and a land acknowledgment similar to the ones beginning this piece, as well as a list of resources. Although trivia is associated with lighter topics and competition, the hosts wanted to ensure and reiterate the sensitivity surrounding the topic. During the trivia, I learned about the disproportionate rate of homeless folk who identify as female in Kingston is 50 percent, where the national average is much lower at 20 percent. The younger someone is when they experience homelessness, the higher their risk of mental illness and addiction, sometimes leading to suicide. Homeless youth are also more vulnerable to exploitation, violence, victimization, which in combination with the absence of treatment and support, leads to a higher mortality rate for homeless youth. According to a study in 2009, Black female homeless youth had a 47 percent chance of experiencing SV compared to white female homeless youth where the average is much lower at 33 percent. Trivia was a very accessible way to quickly learn and digest information, and it also encouraged people participating to acknowledge the gravity of these facts and statistics. In constant efforts to make CwQ more accessible, more trivia style events will likely pop back up in the future!
The statistics and facts brought up in the trivia event make it clear how intersectional the issues and struggles of youth homelessness are and how truly diverse they can be depending on the individual. Indigenous and LGBTQ2IA+ youth were more likely to report becoming homeless before the age of 16 when compared to cisgender and heterosexual youth. The Collecting with QPID campaign aimed to explore and learn about these intersections, while also trying to connect and get involved within our community.
I will finish this piece with thoughts from the Co-Coordinator Sandrine, who is QPID’s General Director next year.
“For me personally, CwQ is close to my heart as myself and my committee was at the forefront of the behind the scenes work to develop and run the campaign, and we got a chance to shape it into something that we’re proud of. I am excited and hopeful to see where future community outreach committees take the CwQ campaign.”
Although the Collecting With QPID campaign has ended, the donation link will remain open for a few weeks. Below I have provided some quick facts about the Kingston Youth Shelter, some resources for those struggling or in need of support, and some links that contain all of the information used for this piece. All are incredibly valuable reads!
- Open 24/hr a day, 365 days a year, with 15 beds for homeless or precariously housed youth
- The Kingston Youth Shelter is a member agency of United Way
- The best ways to get involved are monetary donations and/or supplies, fundraising independently for this great cause, or of course, raising awareness!
- The Kingston Youth Shelter has a great Amazon wishlist so you can donate meaningful supplies right from your home
- The Kingston Youth Shelter’s favourite food is Kraft Dinner!
- 50% of homeless youth are female, 25-40% identify as LGBTQ+, and 65% have dropped out of school
- 77% are unemployed
- 50% are from middle or upper-income families
- 50% have been in jail
- 65% have dropped out of school
- Differentiating adult homelessness and youth homelessness is that some youth have the option of returning to their family homes and they consider this despite the environment
- Homeless youth are also still developing. Poor impulse control, reactive behaviors, and risk-taking all are contributing factors to youth homelessness and thus developmental issues need to be addressed in each situation
- Many youth do not consider themselves to be homeless because they technically have a roof over their head (couch surfing with friends or relatives) – and are not counted in the homeless population
Sexual Assault Centre Kingston 24/7 Crisis and Support line – 613-544-6424
Empower Me 24/7 helpline – 1-844-741-6389
Good2Talk 24/7/365 – 1-866-925-5454
Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (Crisis support, counselling, referral and advocacy services for ages 12+, Free, confidential, non-judgemental regardless of age, race, gender/sexual identity etc.) – https://www.sackingston.com
Crisis Line: 1-877-544-6424
Male Survivors Hotline (Support for males experiencing recent or historic incidents of sexual violence) – 1-866-887–0015
Assaulted Women’s Helpline (Crisis line, counselling referrals, advocacy, judgement free confidentiality)- 1-866-863-0511
Talk4Healing (Culturally sensitive crisis counselling, advice, and support for Indigenous women and their families) – 1-855-554-4325
Murray, L.J. (2018). Settler and Indigenous Stories of Kingston/Ka’tarohkwi: A Case Study in Critical Heritage Pedagogy. Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes 52(1), 249-279. https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/703433.