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Homeless Voices Youth Action Squad


Youth Homeless Voices is a project of the Greater Vancouver Shelter Strategy Society (GVSS). GVSS is a regional network of organizations working alongside the homeless community and with a particular focus on advocating for systemic change. An important aspect of the GVSS’ work is to promote social inclusion, by bringing the voices and perspectives of individuals who have experience of homelessness into dialogue with service providers and decision makers.


From 2012-2013, Tanya facilitated a committee of dedicated members of the GVSS to carry out the mission of this project and ensure that the planned outcomes are delivered. Tanya led the committee to take this project over the finish line and produce the final report.


Youth Action Squad members In December 2010, ten youth aged 19-27 who had experience of homelessness within the Metro Vancouver region came together with a project facilitator to form the Youth Action Squad (YAS). The goal of the YAS was to foster inclusion of homeless youth voices in a respectful, non-judgemental and non-stigmatizing manner. From December 2010 to May 2011the group delved into the issue of youth homelessness, sharing their own stories and conducting five focus groups with other youth in the region who had experienced homelessness.


Based on this rich collection of stories and ideas, the YAS team gave presentations to key stakeholders throughout the region, such as BC Housing, sharing their personal experiences of homelessness and advocating for youthdriven solutions to end homelessness. The youth also completed a community-based photography project, presenting the work at the ‘In our Backyard’ show. The photos throughout this report are from this project.


The youth experience of homelessness is unique and in many ways distinct from the adult experience of homelessness. By sharing their stories with key stakeholders throughout the Greater Vancouver region, the YAS brought a different lens to the issue of homelessness, highlighting the experience of youth.


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