Head & Hands Blog

Affirmations Deck

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“We thought carefully about things we wished we had access to when we were struggling with our identities, or when we were struggling with the erasure, normativity, and violence in our everyday world…It is our hope that this deck finds its way to the hands of young queer and trans folks who might not otherwise have access to supportive communities.”

– “The Affirmations Deck” intro

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If you’ve been in the reception area at Head & Hands lately, you may have noticed a few new posters up on our wall. We recently came across the Affirmations Deck and loved them so much we had to put them up!

The Affirmations Deck was created by a group of queer and trans* youth involved with Planned Parenthood Toronto’s Filling in the Blanks: Queering SexEd project, coordinated by former Head & Hands boardie, and monthly donor, Carly Boyce!  Each card features a statement to help youth feel seen, valued, and supported. The cards touch on A BUNCH of topics, including bodies, consent, gender, identity, healing/recovery, self-love, relationships, and more.

You can scroll through a few examples below, or check out the entire deck & learn more about Queering SexEd online here (you can even print your own copy and add your own affirmations!). You can also flip through the deck at our main office– we’ve got them all printed out in our reception area.

 

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Welcome (back!) to Andi, new parent animator at our Young Parents Program!

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Andi (on the right), with YPP Coordinator Allyson

Andi (on the right), with YPP Coordinator Allyson

Since 1987, when it was founded as a simple clothing exchange by a group of inspired young mothers, our Young Parents Program has grown by leaps and bounds. These days, dozens of young families and pregnant women rely on this program as a source of basic essentials, skill-building, and loving community.

Over the past few years in particular, attendance at the YPP has sky-rocketed: participation has grown by 55% since 2012, and keeps on growing week after week! Being a young parent is tough for many reasons, and youth often come to YPP with a complex set of interlocking challenges. In order to make sure each participant keeps getting the support they need, we decided to expand the team by adding a new Parent Animator position… and we couldn’t be happier to have Andi in this role!

Andi first got to know YPP as an intern while working on their Masters of Social Work at McGill. After the internship ended, Andi then joined us on a summer contract organizing special events and activities. In both these roles, their incredibly effective client approach and coordination skills shone through, and made it hard for us to imagine the program without them. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have them joining us in this new permanent position, and can’t wait to bring the YPP to new heights together!

Check out Monster Academy!!!

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monster academy logo

Are you under 25? Are you interested in talking about mental health?

Monster Academy might be the right fit for you!

Head & Hands has long been committed to combating the silence around mental health, a silence which can lead to isolation, alienation, stigma and criminalization. We think that conversations about mental health can be powerful and transformative, and we are pretty excited to introduce you to Monster Academy, an exciting new(ish) initiative launched in Montreal in June 2014.

Monster Academy is a social justice–oriented workshop series designed to provide accessible, anti-oppressive mental health skills training to youth in Montreal. It is also intended to open a restorative dialogue around the silencing and stigmatization of “being crazy” in the broader Montreal community. Monster Academy is based upon the principles of empowerment, harm reduction, respect for self and others, interdependence, mindfulness, and community serving community.

Here at Head & Hands, we believe in the power of youth as leaders, teachers, and educators. We believe in prioritizing and creating space for voices in our communities. These are shared values with Monster Academy.

Monster Academy offers a FREE 8-workshop course for youth aged 16 to 25. Workshops contain practical components such as self-care and mental health intervention skills, guided discussion on mental health–related topics, and other skills such as group animation. They also offer support to youth interested in developing their own community projects.

Monster Academy is currently accepting participants for the winter 2015 Monster Academy: Mental Health Skills for Montreal Youth program. Application deadline is January 31st! Click here if you are interested in more information or would like to take a look at the application.

Winter Closure

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Winter is here! As usual, all Head & Hands locations and services are shutting down for the next two weeks (December 22, 2014 – January 4, 2015) so that we can rest up and prepare for the year ahead.

All our services will re-open and run on their regular schedules as of January 5, 2015.

Thank you to our volunteers, interns, board of directors, donors, supporters, friends, allies, and staff, as well as to NDG youth and the community for an amazing year!

We wish you all a very happy new year. See you in 2015!

Give the gift of…. Head & Hands!

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Did you know that this past year, 40% more clients accessed our emergency food pantry than ever before??  Or that overall demand for our programs increased almost 15% this past year??  The need for our medical, legal, and social services is growing, and so as we prepare to close for our winter break, please allow us to re-introduce our cutest fundraising campaign: Give the Gift!

When you donate online through Give the Gift, you’ll receive a package of custom-designed cards, ready to print at home and give to friends and family on behalf of each donation. Give the Gift was made possible thanks to two talented local Head & Hands supporters: web programmer, Danielle Bakhazi, and youth artist, J’VLYN.

No matter the occasion, we’ve got you covered in English and French, with cards for celebrating gratitude, birthdays, anniversaries, congratulatory moments, incredible friendships, a new life, or just because!

Give the Gift cards are perfect for the person who says they don’t need anything, who doesn’t want more stuff, who wishes they had more time to volunteer, who believes in buying local, who believes in homemade gifts, who believes in ethical giving, who you have no idea what to buy, for the person who loves Head & Hands, and for the person that you love.

No matter who is on the receiving end, they can’t deny the wicked awesome goodness that comes from a donation being made in one’s honour to support youth in our community.

Okay, so we’ve explained why it’s amazing. But how does it WORK?!

1. Go to our Give the Gift page by clicking here

2. Decide how much you want to donate via your credit card or PayPal account

3. Receive a PDF file with a ton of beautiful cards

4. Pick the card you like

5. Print the card you like

6. Personalize it and send it!

7. Enjoy being the best gift giver ever.

It’s easy and fabulous.

Support Sex Workers at Dec 17th Action and Vigil

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ACTION SANTÉ, TRAVESTI(E)S ET TRANSSEXUEL(LE)S DU QUÉBEC (ASTTeQ), RÉZO AND STELLA, L’AMIE DE MAIMIE have invited sex workers, those who work with sex workers, and allies to join in a walk and vigil this December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Last year, sex workers and allies celebrated a huge victory when the Supreme Court recognized that criminal laws contribute to systemic violence that sex workers experience, and declared those laws unconstitutional (check out this link for more information). This year, however, the federal government introduced a new set of laws (known collectively as C-36) which came into effect on December 6th and will once again cause harm to sex workers – compromising safety, security, and dignity.

C-36 is a big concern for us and the folks we work alongside with on a daily basis. We here at Head & Hands, an organization committed to harm and risk reduction, believe that C-36 will lead to increased surveillance and criminalization of marginalized and racialized communities – trends we are already fighting against! C-36 is a strong reminder as to the importance of our Street Work program, our legal clinic, our work against racial profiling, and our commitment to underscoring the strength and resilience of our communities. These laws also remind us that the fight for safe working conditions, decriminalization, and dignity for sex workers is rooted in demands to end to gendered, racialized, systemic violence. The fight continues.

With the passage of C-36 , we at Head & Hands, along with ACTION SANTÉ, TRAVESTI(E)S ET TRANSSEXUEL(LE)S DU QUÉBEC (ASTTeQ), RÉZO AND STELLA, L’AMIE DE MAIMIE are calling for people to come together  to demand safe working conditions for sex workers.

We encourage you to learn more about the incredible work STELLA is doing, about Bedford v. Canada, and about the devastating laws under C-36.

We are calling upon you to come out in numbers on Dec 17th to support sex workers and call for an end to gendered, racialized, systemic violence. We are looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

 

When: December 17th, 2014, 4:30pm-5:30pm

 

Meeting point @ 4:30pm

Montreal Municipal Court

775 rue Gosford, Montréal

(Champs de Mars metro)

 

Vigil afterwards

Palais de Justice

1 Rue Notre-Dame East, Montréal

Racial Profiling & Know Your Rights: New Video Resources!

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know Your RightsThese past few months, racial profiling and police violence have been in the international media spotlight. The murder of unarmed teenager Mike Brown, the acquittal of the police officer responsible for his death, and the resulting popular mobilizations in Ferguson have all shed light on this issue.

For youth of colour in Montreal, racial profiling and police harassment have been parts of their daily reality for years. In the last two decades, Montreal police have killed at least 47 civilians – including unarmed teenager Fredy Villanueva in 2008. The police report commissioned in response to Villanueva’s death concluded that Black youth in Montreal are eight times more likely to be stopped by police than White youth of the same age.

If you or someone you know has experienced racial profiling, Head & Hands can support in a few different ways (free of charge for youth 12-25, like all our services):

-Through active listening and non-judgmental conversation, we create safe spaces to be heard, acknowledge the trauma caused by racial profiling, and let youth know they aren’t alone in these experiences

-Through individual support from our Legal Coordinator, we empower young people to follow up on experiences of racial profiling, explaining their options and helping them navigate bureaucracy (for example, in order to file official complaints or contest unjustified tickets)

-Through our workshops and published resources, we educate youth and communities around how to react when they face racial profiling, by providing information about rights and responsibilities as well as strategies for conflict de-escalation

This week, we are very excited to launch our “Know Your Rights” video series – a new resource intended to share key information from our legal program with a broader audience, and spark conversations around this important issue. Each of these video capsules contains strategies for asserting your rights and de-escalating tense interactions, including “Interacting with Police” and “Loitering & Arrest“.

To request support, book a workshop, or get more information about our full range of legal support services, click here or call Ralph at 514-481-0277.

Clinic Closure Dates

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Dear clinic patients,
Please note that there will be a 3 week clinic hiatus over the winter break. The last clinic of the year will be held on Thursday, December 11th and then clinics will resume on Tuesday, January 6th 2015. If you need to see the doctor before the new year, make sure to come to the clinic before the holiday closure! Please note that we are a drop-in clinic and we cannot renew prescriptions without a doctor’s visit. For more information about our clinic or to check the calendar, visit our website or call 514 481-0277.
All of our other programs and services will be closed from Monday, December 22nd through January 5th, inclusive.
Cheers,
Jos and Dr. Tellier

 

Donor News: J2K Animator Eva Helps Youth Express Themselves Through Art

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Eva

Jeunesse 2000 (J2K) animator Eva knows the importance of artistic expression in building youth confidence.

Many youth who come to the J2K drop-in centre have difficult situations going on at home, and need an outlet to express themselves. Unfortunately for many, access to safe, non-judgemental spaces that encourage artistic expression is rare. Providing a quiet place to write, or workshops on how to play musical instruments, is invaluable. It allows youth to build relationships with animators like Eva. “We try and fill a gap in society – it can be hard to talk about certain things with your teacher or parents, and so you end up talking to your friends, but they’re not necessarily the best people or the most informed. Youth really need that in-between, which is why I see myself as a big sister figure.”

For Eva, part of being a big sister means creating safe, non-judgmental spaces that inspire and empower the youth. In early October, she hosted a discussion group on black hair and identity; and this summer, along with other J2K staff and youth, she helped put on Do My Ladies Run This, an all-female music showcase at Shaika Café. For Eva, it was important for the youth to see women, “practicing, singing, and jamming. It showed them that, yes, they belong here, and yes, their art matters.”

But Eva stresses that you don’t have to want to make art or have a topic you want to discuss to come to J2K. In fact, you don’t need to have a reason at all. For youth, just knowing that there’s a place where they can come and hang out if they have nothing to do is really important.

Throwback Thursday: Students in Mind Conference

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students in mind

On October 5th, Rhonda, our Social Counselor, attended the 2nd annual Students in Mind conference at McGill University. The conference aimed to create a space for the McGill community to come together to change the mental health climate on campus and to reflect on the role mental health plays in everyday life.

Rhonda was excited to attend the conference to bring mental health to the forefront of conversations— to make it a topic that can be talked about, rather than hidden. “Unless people have been depressed themselves, it is very difficult to imagine what it is like,” Rhonda explains. “When students feel they’re depressed or anxious, they need to be able to talk about it.”

Around 150 students came to campus on a Sunday for the conference, which included workshops on self-care and peer support, speeches, and panels on topics such as cross-cultural portrayals of mental health, social media and mood, and student strategies for mental health.

Rhonda spoke on a Mental Health/Illness & Criminality panel, which discussed the over-representation of people with various forms of mental illness in the criminal justice system, and ways to address the marginalization and isolation of people in need of mental health support.

Mental health support is notoriously difficult to access in Montreal; many youth are unable to access appropriate, affordable support and can fall through the cracks of the existing social safety net, which can lead to marginalization and criminalization. Existing support systems, like schools, social workers, and psychologists, are often overwhelmed with cases and are not always able to provide appropriate, ongoing support to youth.

Rhonda is able to support youth facing mild to moderate depression or personal crises, and works in collaboration with Dr. Tellier to support youth who want a mental health evaluation from a doctor.  Dr. Tellier is able to provide evaluations at our medical clinic and referrals to psychiatrists. As always at Head & Hands, our mental health support services are holistic, non-judgmental, and focused on giving youth the support they need to make informed choices about their mental and physical well-being.