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March 8th is International Women’s Day

All around the world, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

"The idea for an International Women's Day arose around the turn of the 20th century out of a long-standing movement for women to participate equally in society.

The first International Women's Day was observed on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. That day, more than one million women and men showed their support by participating in public events. Between 1913 and 1917, women in Russia and elsewhere in Europe began to celebrate the day as well. Over time, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration.

Each year, March 8 and the week of March 8 provide an opportunity to take stock of our progress towards gender equality and to honour the contributions women have made and are making — both in Canada and around the world." - Taken from Status of Women Canada

Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day 2015 is:
Strong Women. Strong World.
Improving Economic Opportunities for All

To learn more about International Women's Day and what events are taking place around the world click here. To learn what more about Canada's involvement in International Women's Day click here.

International Women's Day

 

Sharing one good thing

Being a new staff member I was feeling quite nervous coming in to work with a large group of youth who have had a lot of different experiences, some incredibly hard. I thought they may have a lot of distrust for a new staff member and I was hesitant at first to really put myself out there. With the encouragement of a fellow youth worker, I decided to take a risk and start a new initiative. Every night when the youth gather together before bedtime I started asking what the best part of their day was. At first it took the youth by surprise but soon after they started to enjoy sharing. It became a little glimpse into the joy that they had each experienced during the day despite what they are going through.

Of course there are nights when some youth have had a bad day and want to "pass" but often after everyone else has said their piece, they would open up and share something small that happened during the day. Whether it was "I watched a funny video" or "I got to see a good friend today", they always manage to find some little joy in every day. The idea has caught on so well that I have youth come up to me after I have been away for a few days and say "the other team forgot to ask what the best part of our day was so we reminded them and made them do it!" It's incredible that through all of their trials and tribulations, each youth is enthusiastic to share their happiness every night and support each other through each of their successes. - Jenna, Youth Worker 

there is something good in every day  

Island Pacific School students take learning about youth homelessness to the next level

This past February, Grade 8 & 9 students from Island Pacific School on Bowen Island took learning to the next level. They opened their hearts and minds to the devastating world of youth homelessness by researching pathways that lead youth to the streets. They also explored downtown Vancouver to gain a better understanding of services available to their peers, volunteered at Covenant House Vancouver, and hosted their own Sleep Out: Student Edition.  

Sleep Out: Student Edition is a fundraising experience that schools across the Lower Mainland have been hosting throughout the school year. Student’s learn about youth homelessness, sleep out in solidarity for homeless youth and raise funds to help youth at Covenant House Vancouver achieve lasting independence.

Teachers Jennifer Henrichsen and Pam Matthews inspired their students to get the most out of their Sleep Out by organizing a walk around downtown that included dinner on a $2 budget, and a volunteer shift at Covenant House before heading back to IPS to sleep outside.

One student, Lauren, shares: "Our society makes this scary idea around homelessness…I mean for most of my life I have had this exact idea and fear in my head. But yesterday made a huge change in my outlook on why people are on the street. The one part of yesterday that truly resonated with me was walking in East Hastings. It made me realize the extent of the homelessness problem and made me feel that those people deserved so much more."

IPS students were only allowed to bring a sleeping bag and matt to sleep outside with. No pillow. No extra blankets. No snacks. They huddled together trying to keep warm throughout the drizzly night.

"We all suffered the cold, damp, uncomfortable conditions, but the most important difference that I saw was that we were together. On the street there rarely are people huddled all around you that care and will look out for you. We were outside as a team, but youth on the street are all alone," explains Aria.

In only two weeks, this passionate group of students, teachers and their families raised $4,675 to provide 17 youth in Covenant House’s Rights of Passage Program with supportive transitional housing so they too will be prepared for a healthy, happy, independent future out of poverty and off the streets.

Our most sincere thanks goes out to the IPS community for sharing their passion for life with our deserving young people.

Student Sleep Out Island Pacific School 

Off My Back – A social enterprise in support of Covenant House

Off My Back was founded by five Royal Roads University students with the idea that small acts will compound to big change. Off My Back’s mission is to raise awareness of child poverty in Canada.

OMB is a social enterprise that has teamed up with Covenant House Vancouver and Covenant House Toronto. Every shirt sold puts one on the back of a homeless youth. Its fashion with a purpose and 100% of the profits are donated.

To learn more or to buy a shirt click here

Off My Back shirt image 

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