Christina Loc – Youth and Lived Experience Manager


Today is Child and Youth in Care Day in Ontario, a day proclaimed into law through the Children and Youth in Care Day Act, 2014. It is an opportunity to recognize current and former youth’s valuable contributions to communities across Ontario. Today, we acknowledge the strength and resilience young people in and from care have demonstrated in the face of adversity. 

This day exists due to the tireless efforts of young people in and from care and the stories and experiences they shared through the My Real Life Book report. That makes it the perfect day to chat with Christina Loc, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s Youth and Lived Experience Engagement Manager, a former youth in care herself. Christina tells us about her role in this piece and why it matters.  


Describe your role as Youth and Lived Experience Expert Engagement Manager at the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.  

The Youth and Lived Expert Engagement Manager helps to bridge connections and is a friend to the young people we serve.  

I’m here to ensure that the youth voice is reflected in the work I’m reviewing and to consider how it might be perceived from that perspective. I also ensure that communications going out to the young people we work with are safe and thoughtful and that there is a shared understanding of the topic of context. With a deep connection, I help intertwine the voices of young people and their lived experiences into the work we do at the Foundation to ensure a meaningful and collaborative relationship.  

What inspired you to want to take on this role? 

After many years of working in the tech industry, solving complex problems and designing apps and websites for startups and large companies, I wanted to bring that knowledge and innovation to my community. As a former youth in care and lived experience expert myself, I’m passionate about bridging the gap between social impact and tech because I didn’t grow up with that. 

I didn’t know what computer science or engineering was; I learned about them from my peers at university. Having the ability to create all these different things –made you like a magician. But while the work was interesting, I kept returning to nonprofits and social impact work, volunteering and working in my community, using tech and media as a vehicle for change and innovation in the child welfare industry.  This role allows me to represent my community of bright and resilient young people from the sector and work with diverse lived experts across the country. It is my absolute honour to serve them!  

What does youth engagement look like? How do their experiences impact the work of CAFC?  

The opportunities for youth engagement at the Foundation are very broad. It means many different things, such as engaging young people, working with them, and collaborating on different projects or campaigns, or getting their feedback. As a foundation, we want to connect with those interested in joining our community — who want to be allies and supporters in their own way. It could be through financial donations, access to specific resources, connections or mentorship. Young people may share their stories through social media or initiatives like the e-cookbook A Safe Plate to create awareness and educate these audiences.   

Through speaking engagements, young people are often invited to share their stories, connecting with big brands and corporations that offer products and services they use daily. How cool is it that we can provide these opportunities and this kind of exposure? It is a pleasure to be a conduit and share these opportunities with them.  

We also have the Young People’s Advisory Council (YPAC), which meets bi-monthly and provides insights and advice to teams across the Foundation. They get to weigh in on programming, strategies, and initiatives and provide input on everything from upcoming marketing campaigns to events like Stand Up For Kids Night and the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canda Gala – Teddy Bear Affair. 

What advice would you give young people who may be hesitant to share their experiences or get involved in advocacy efforts? 

In my role, I try to ensure that we reach out to a full range of youth and lived experts in our network to share opportunities to work with the Foundation or provide insights or stories. 

Not all young people from government care are advocates. But what we see time and time again is that so many of them want to give back. They want to optimize their lived experience, whatever challenging, painful, or great experience they had, and take that and alchemize it into something that can help other young people. So, what I would say to this question is to figure out what works for you! You’ve had to advocate for yourself time and time again; when thinking of how you’d like to advocate for our community, think about your why and find your own unique way to do it. 

For instance, my friends and I from care started an organization called Project Outsiders to use our various skills in the arts and media to share our care experiences and stories with the world. Remember that your story is what makes you; nothing is impossible in this world, so if something matters to you, let it inspire you, get creative, and lean into it.   

What are the most pressing issues facing youth from care in Canada today? How are we, as a foundation, addressing those challenges? What more can we do? 

One of the most pressing issues we can focus on tackling is connection, relationships, and healing, with trust being the bridge. You can give a young person a job and support them to help them get through their education and achieve degrees, accolades, and other successes. These things may help, but when they go home, are they alone at the end of the day?  

How do we strengthen the connections and relationships in our work? I know the young people we work with love being a part of articles and being featured in stories; I know they love that exposure and ability to spread awareness. The ones who do participate, those with YPAC for example, love giving back. But how do we build their capacity in terms of their professional portfolio or connect them with specific people so they can truly network with them? How do we create those lasting, wider-reaching relationships, and how do we maintain them? Now that we’re in the final year of our five-year plan, I’m excited about the conversations we’re having at the Foundation and how we might be able to do more of that kind of work, as well as government relations and advocacy. The Foundation has been thoughtful and intentional about the work being done. I’m happy to be part of it and look forward to what the future brings. Happy Child and Youth in Care Day Fam!