CHRISTINA, 27, is an advocate for youth from care, proud mother of two, and, with support from Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada funding, a registered personal support worker. Entering foster care at the age of 12 due to an abusive home environment, she lived in multiple foster and group homes before initiatives like the Foundation-funded Pape Adolescent Resource Centre (PARC) empowered her to find a stable home and return to school.
*The opinions and views expressed in this article are that of the youth in profile, and not necessarily reflective of the official opinion or position of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.
I love helping others, and I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m just making little steps. [Youth from care] go through some really [hard] things, and if they don’t have the resources they need, what will happen to them?
“When I was 12, I came to Canada. It was very hard for me to adjust to Canadian society; I had a different upbringing. At that time, I didn’t really understand [that my culture was so different]. There were so many issues [of abuse and neglect] at home.”
“My experience in care was [really positive]. For a short time, I had foster parents from my culture, who were very understanding. Now that I’m older, I’m more open and I’m finding out about things that I maybe should’ve taken advantage of while I was in care. There was a lot of opportunity there. [At the time, I just wasn’t ready to accept the help].”
“I lived in a semi-group home for most of the time, but it was a positive experience. In a foster family, you get to be part of a family, while at a group home there are [more rules]; like, you have to be home at a certain time. You want to be home with your family to share in holiday activities, but in a group home [with a structured environment], [there’s less freedom] and you’re forced to have certain hours to do your own activities, like laundry.”
“If I was still living with my parents, I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now. I think that foster care gave me the opportunity to [invest in myself]. I chose to transition out of care at 16, and it was really scary; I shouldn’t have done that. I was on my own. I was still going to school and had friends, and I [was fortunate] because I didn’t follow a lot of my friends in doing [unhealthy things]. I grew up more quickly than my peers and I was my own person. I had to learn on my own.”
“Family is something that builds you and breaks you. For me, I know my family is there for me, but they don’t want the things that I want. And for me to move forward, I can’t allow them to define where my life is going. At ages 18 and 19, that was happening. Now, family is important, but I feel like I don’t need them to [define my life].”
“When I was living on the streets and in shelters, when I was about 20, I knew I needed help. I was referred to the Pape Adolescent Resource Centre and they helped me with funding. As far as I can remember, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada has been there to support me in all the ways that I need; for things like working and getting a career and education. I’ve used that, and I’m on my feet. I completed my Personal Support Worker certificate, and I’ve been able to find work in that area. If it wasn’t for the Foundation, it would be the same repeating cycle over and over. The fact that the Foundation gives up support until we’re 30, makes it even better. I’m just going to keep moving forward. The Foundation gives me a place to turn.”
“I’d really like to do nursing; I love helping others, and I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m just making little steps. [Youth from care] go through some really [hard] things, and if they don’t have the resources they need, what will happen to them? There’s so much that goes on that youth can’t bear by themselves. I have a big heart, and if I can help just like the Foundation does, I hope to do that one day. Thank you so much to the Foundation.”