October is Women’s History Month in Canada. It is a time to recognize the achievements and contributions by women from the past and present, who are making Canada a better and more inclusive place to live.
This year’s theme is “Through Her Lens: Celebrating the Diversity of Women.”
We are celebrating this month by highlighting some of the amazing women at CHV who work so hard to make Canada a more equitable place.
What department do you work in and what is your job title?
Spiritual Care (part of the Case Management Team); Lead Spiritual Care Practitioner. I provide spiritual care to youth who identify this as something they would like support with. I source spiritual care items that youth have lost in the process of being homelessness; I refer them to local faith communities and/or cultural supports as requested; I provide one-on-one spiritual care sessions, grief support, and memorials and grief circles, when we lose youth or staff. I also help coordinate a multifaith/multicultural celebration calendar, and I ensure that youth have culturally and spiritually appropriate care while they are with us.
How long have you worked at Covenant House Vancouver (CHV)?
Four years, this November.
How did you find out about CHV and what made you want to work here?
I first heard about Covenant House on a radio ad and was instantly compelled by the work the organization does. Years later, I saw a job opening for my position on Indeed and couldn’t believe it was a real job — it ticked so many of the boxes for my own values and ethos as someone who has spent my life providing spiritual care.
Could you share a memorable interaction with a youth or donor?
There are so many! I think one of the most memorable was when a youth was reflecting on all they had accomplished while being at Covenant House — getting their dream job and moving into independent housing. They said that they never expected to reach their 18th birthday, let alone do all of these things, and they wished that they could go back and tell their young self all that they had to look forward to.
If you had to describe CHV in so many words, what would you say?
Trauma informed, mindful action, open to improvement.
What motivates you to show up to work every day?
Multiple things — the youth, my coworkers, and the work that we’re doing. I love making Covenant House a place that is supportive of the particular cultural and spiritual practices that are a part of how a youth has survived until now.
Why is CHV important?
In an ideal world, a place like CHV wouldn’t need to exist — young people would be safe and supported as they move from adolescence into adulthood. But the world is not perfect, and the need is here — to try and do right by these young people and give them the best chance for a good life is incredibly meaningful.
What do you love about your job and working at CHV?
I love the challenge of my job — youth come from so many backgrounds and making sure that we can provide what they need can be challenging, but is so rewarding. I love working at a place that is in line with my own values and principles. I love working at a place that is constantly reflective and striving to do better, because that’s how I like to live my life, too.
Could you tell us about 2–3 accomplishments that you’ve achieved and why you are proud of them?
Over my time at Covenant House, I’ve implemented, in partnership with other departments, a fulsome offering of support for Muslim youth who are fasting through Ramadan. As our demographic of Muslim youth has continued to increase, it has been a source of great pride and joy for us to have supports in place for them that they can take advantage of, if they choose. I’m also very proud to have contributed to the inclusiveness of spiritual care that we offer — whether youth are pagan or Wiccan or Muslim or Sikh, it is made clear to them with immediacy and respect that their spirituality and religion are not barriers to care and are, in fact, part of the whole-person support system we’re seeking to build with them. Part of the reason I respond to tangible support requests within one week is to affirm that there is no “normal” and “other” spiritual path. Whether it’s a Christian requesting a Bible, a Muslim requesting a Qur’an, or a pagan person requesting an altar box or crystals, our paths are valid and important parts of our identity and strength.
Do you have a role model or someone who inspires you?
Rabbi Tirzah Firestone is someone I’ve never met personally but whose memoir came to me early in my career and remains a source of inspiration. I go back to it often for encouragement when I struggle with the realities of being a woman leader in the realm of faith and spirituality.
How can society better support women to work towards equity? What are the roadblocks?
I think one of the main things is to acknowledge the ongoing perniciousness and presence of misogyny and the ways that this impacts the well-being of women here in Canada and around the world. As a society, we can continue to build on women-friendly supports including parental leave, affordable childcare, workplace flexibility, and workplace education on misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and the many intersecting forms of oppression that show up at home and at work.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
For me, women’s history month is an insistence that women not be erased; that we are not an “other” to the normal, but rather makers and remakers of what is and what should be.
Thank you Kadee, for sharing your thoughts and inspiring words.
Follow us on social media and share your stories of the amazing women that you wish to celebrate this month.