If you have been following along, last month, we were running a series in celebration of Women’s History Month in Canada. This month was dedicated to acknowledging the remarkable accomplishments and valuable contributions of women, both historical and contemporary, in shaping a more inclusive and improved Canada.
We spent October shining a spotlight on the exceptional women at Covenant House Vancouver (CHV) who work tirelessly to foster equity and inclusivity in our workplace and in the care that we provide to youth who journey with us. Even though Women’s History Month is over, we aren’t done celebrating and spotlighting a couple more incredible women that we are lucky enough to work with.
What department do you work in and what is your job title?
I work as the Anti-Human Trafficking Coordinator on the Case Management Team. I have been working, for the past two and a half years, on a project that was supported by Women and Gender Equality Canada, that focuses on organizational capacity building to support survivors of human trafficking through CHV services.
How long have you worked at Covenant House Vancouver (CHV)?
Four and a half years.
How did you find out about CHV and what made you want to work here?
There was a casual social worker position open, and I applied. I didn’t intend to stay, but I got to know the organization and the youth. There is so much hope at CHV to grow for and with the youth!
Could you share a memorable interaction with a youth or donor?
I don’t necessarily speak in the youth vernacular, and I was checking in about a case plan. I asked the youth if the plan “jived” with them and they responded back with a questioning look, asking what “jive” was. The only way I could response was to repeat “jive” but not with added finger guns! They informed me that “vibe” would be the youth term in 2020.
What motivates you to show up to work every day?
I get excited by the amazing work that we do with youth, alongside the way that we step up with the community. In recent years, we have partnered with community leaders for a greater impact to address the systemic issues of homelessness.
Why is CHV important?
CHV serves as a home base for a lot of youth in the community. They may come in and out of our services, but they know that we are a safe place that they can return to.
What do you love about your job and working at CHV?
We continuously ask ourselves, “How can we be better?” We learn from research, the community, and the youth, to be able to offer a high level of care, and then we ask, “How can we level up even more?”
Could you tell us about 2–3 accomplishments that you’ve achieved and why you are proud of them?
- The development of our anti-human trafficking toolkit that is aimed at sharing intervention practices and bolstering knowledge, while strengthening empowerment services for vulnerable youth, age 16 to 24, who are at risk of, or are survivors of, exploitation and human trafficking.
- Being nominated by my colleagues to be one of two recipients for the 2022 Inspiring Social Worker of the Year Award.
Do you have a role model or someone who inspires you?
I don’t have a single role model, but rather hold in high esteem the women around me. The generations before me have paved the way for me to have a role in this world, the women of my own generation continue to support me as I second guess myself, and women of the next generation continue to redefine our society towards inclusion and empathy.
How can society better support women to work towards equity? What are the roadblocks?
We need to recognize the value of different ways of thinking. Our society wasn’t built for the benefit of women or gender-diverse folks, but our ways of seeing the world and seeing solutions will build where we are going. We need to seek to understand one another rather than ask us to fit into a box that was never made for us.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Women have been up against systemic challenges throughout history, but we have found ways to thrive and make change. I think we can find similar parallels with the issues that we face today and work together to make real change.
Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing your thoughts and inspiring words.