‘We Want 2 b Heard’ Aboriginal Youth Perspectives on Homelessness (Video + Study)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5FxYWw0fhM[/youtube]

This video is a simulation that dramatizes some of the perspectives and experiences of homeless and street involved Aboriginal Youth.

In 2006, the McCreary Centre Society surveyed 764 street involved youth in communities across British Columbia.  A remarkable 54% of the street youths surveyed were Aboriginal.

Interesting quotes from the video:

“Most kids on the street today see themselves in the future with a job.”

“Forty percent of street youths were either living in Foster Homes or Group Homes before they ended up on the streets.  One out of three of these youths are still attending school, even though they don’t have a home to stay in.”

“I don’t want to die here [on the streets] but probably will without help.”

Many of these youths are runaways.  Obtaining food and basic necessities is a daily struggle.  Some of the youth on the street are very young.  Youth reported an urgent need for affordable housing.  More than 1 in 4 reported a disability or debilitating health condition.  These youths urgently need job training (47% wanted this).

Some key findings from the full McCreary Centre report entitled: Aboriginal Marginalized and Street Involved Youth available here:

• A large number of the youth reported leaving home before entering their teen years. 40% of males and 47% of females had first run away at age 12 or younger, and one in three had been kicked out by age 12

• Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth (LGB) were highly over-represented, especially among female participants.

• 47% had gone hungry because they or their parents didn’t have money for food

• Violence was a significant issue for most of the youth. 63% reported having witnessed family violence, and almost 60% having been physically abused.

• 1 in 3 youth had been pregnant or had caused a pregnancy

Only 10% of the street youth interviewed reported having lived on a reserve.  A majority of the youths expressed agreement with the notion that living on a reserve would increase the connection they had Aboriginal culture.

There is so much in this report that is of use to educators.  The fact that kids such as the ones documented in the video are attending school and doing whatever they can to get by is both shocking and tragic.  These marginalized youth come from the most horrific of circumstances and their stories are a compelling reason for reform in social services, education, government policy, and simple everyday human compassion.

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