Head & Hands Blog

Donor News: Legal Coordinator Ralph Helps Youth Navigate the Effects of Racial Profiling

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Legal coordinator Ralph shows the Know Your Rights pamphlets

Legal coordinator Ralph shows the Know Your Rights pamphlets

 

A police report commissioned after the death of Fredy Villanueva, a youth killed by police in 2008, found that Black youth in Montreal are eight times more likely than white youth of the same age to be stopped by the police. This comes as no surprise to Legal Coordinator Ralph, who helps youth navigate the effects of racial profiling in his Know Your Rights workshops. We spoke with Ralph about the reality of racism in Montreal and the importance of empowering youth in knowing their rights.

H&H: What examples of police racism have you come across in your work with youth?

Ralph: I’ve spoken to a lot of Black youth who’ve complained about getting tickets for loitering in the metro while the white youth around aren’t getting ticketed.  My role is to take their experience seriously, share resources, and help them explore different ways they can respond. And if they want legal advice, I can connect them with our volunteer lawyers.

What makes you uniquely positioned to run the Know Your Rights workshops?

I have a paralegal degree, and I’m also a person of colour with lived experiences of racism. This helps me to understand what the youth are going through while being able to provide the theory, history, and context behind it.

What does a typical workshop look like?

I try to keep it fun and interesting. We role play in costume: youth dress up in uniforms with hats and badges. Going through scenarios and teaching youth their rights each step of the way means that if they’re presented with a similar situation in real life, they’ll feel less afraid and be able to stay calm and be assertive. I also teach youth how to take pictures and record conversations, identify police and ask them for their badge. By the end of the workshop, the energy in the room feels lighter. Many youth share personal stories, and say it’s a therapeutic experience.

Workshops happen every 1 to 2 months, when the need is there. There’s also a Know Your Rights video series on our YouTube channel, plus pamphlets and cards at our office and on our website.

Ralph is available to support youth with a variety of issues – from profiling, to housing, divorce, and more. Our legal services receive no dedicated funding, meaning they’re supported entirely by donors like you!

 

Donor News: “Your Body is Okay!” Our Sense Project Coordinator Talks Body Diversity, Beauty Standards, and Sexual Performance Anxiety

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Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

 

Ontario’s new comprehensive sexual education curriculum, revised last year, shows just how much Quebec is lagging when it comes to equipping youth with the information they need to make empowered sexual decisions.  Since sex education was effectively removed from the Quebec curriculum in 2005, rates of STIs as well as dating and sexual violence have risen steadily among teens. For the past ten years, youth volunteers trained through Head & Hands’ Sense Project have been working tirelessly to fill the gaps by leading workshops on gender and sexuality, safer sex, and consent to youth in schools, group homes, and CEGEPs.

This year’s most popular workshop explores questions of body and genital diversity, society’s beauty standards, and sexual performance anxiety. According to Sense Project Coordinator Gab, one of the ways through which today’s youth are exposed to unrealistic beauty standards and sexual expectations – and one of the topics they’re most eager to talk about –  is porn.

“The reality is, youth are watching porn, so we need to be having frank discussions with them on how a lot of mainstream porn is made,” Gab explains. “It’s a performance and what’s not shown is communication and consent.”

Gab also discusses how porn can impact body image and expectations: “Makeup is used to change the colour of genitals, but our workshops set the record straight: genitalia come in all shapes and sizes, and can range from pale pink to dark brown. Casting, editing, and filming make it so bodies look and perform in a very specific way; so we talk to youth about having realistic expectations of their bodies and their partners’ bodies.

The response to the workshops has been incredibly positive.  For many youth, it’s their only opportunity to ask burning questions to peer-educators, knowing they won’t be judged! There’s a strong need for more workshops, but resources are limited. “These days, everyone’s budget is limited, so we don’t always get paid and we’re often underpaid for the workshops we give; but we don’t turn down an opportunity to give much needed sex education for youth, even if we have to do it for free.”

The Sense Project depends on community giving, which means that we need you to help this project expand and reach more youth. As Gab explains, “There’s nothing like seeing the sigh of relief from a youth when you tell them their body is okay.”

 

SEEKING FRONT DESK VOLUNTEERS!

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Passionate about youth empowerment, harm reduction, and holistic legal, social, and health care services? Love NDG? Love Head & Hands? We need your help!

Head & Hands is looking for committed, open-minded, and enthusiastic volunteers. You are likely up to the task if you are invested in non-judgmental, anti-oppressive, and social justice approaches to community-based programming and community building.

Specifically, we are seeking front desk volunteers to work in conjunction with our office coordinators. Tasks will include working at our front desk (approximately 6 hour shifts, 1–4 times per month), directing clients to the appropriate Head & Hands service, providing referrals and information about other Montreal organizations, and acting as first responder for clients in need of support and crisis intervention. As a front desk volunteer, you will also have the occasional opportunity to help out with programming, projects, and events.

Think you might be interested?

We offer a 30-hour training program for our front desk volunteers aimed at introducing you to Head & Hands’ diverse clientele and approaches to meeting their needs. Past training has included workshops around harm and risk reduction, crisis intervention, active listening, de-escalation skills, and the history of Head & Hands.

Still interested?

Ideal applicants are:

  • Age 17 years or older
  • Able to commit to 6–20 hours per month of volunteering
  • Able to commit to 6–12 months of volunteering
  • Available for a regular shift, weekday daytimes and/or evenings
  • Fluent in English and spoken French
  • Available for training session workshops in the evenings and on weekends in July

Still considering applying? Here is a testimonial from one of our front desk volunteers about their experiences with the program:

“Volunteering at the front desk of Head & Hands makes me feel like a part of my community. I look forward to my shifts! Head & Hands is the best and volunteering at the front desk is great.”

 YAY! You’ve decided to apply!

dog at desk

Please complete the volunteer application form by June 14th at 5 pm. Selected candidates will be contacted for an interview shortly afterwards. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Devon and Linda at info@headandhands.ca, or call (514) 481-0277.

SAMEDI IN THE PARK!

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Summer is in the air, with buds on the trees and birds chirping. On June 13, we’re inviting our whole community to join us for Samedi in the Park – an afternoon of food, music, fun, and conversation about the role of youth in NDG!  It’s all happening right in the middle of Girouard Park, at the old wading pool.

From 12:00pm until 3:00pm, come enjoy a delicious BBQ, meet our new Director, and learn about the many different ways H&H works with young people make this community more healthy, vibrant, and caring. Plus, be a part of our community planning process, and help us build our vision for the future!

From 3:00pm until 5:00pm, fuel up on FREE snacks prepared by cooks from our Young Parents Program, and join our Annual General Meeting to get more details on the past year at H&H and elect the new Board members who will help make all our dreams come true.

All through the day, we’ll have games, art, and musical performances by some of this city’s most exciting youth talent. Right after the AGM, stick around for an extra-special headline performance that will blow you away, and dance with us to celebrate another amazing year!

5:30pm – SPECIAL HEADLINE PERFORMANCE BY MATT HOLUBOWSKI !!!

This event is open to EVERYONE, and we will have free child-care available throughout the day.

ARE YOU A MEMBER? If you’ve accessed services, volunteered your time, or made a donation in the past year, then YOU are a member of Head & Hands eligible to vote at our AGM. To get on our voting list, get in touch with the Coordinator of the program you accessed or volunteered for, and let them know you want to attend – or if you’re a donor, just show up (we’ve already got your info)!

ARE YOU NOT A MEMBER?  We still love you, come celebrate with us!!!

samedi - EN

Please join us in celebrating Paul’s memory

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Last month, we were extremely saddened to share the news that our dear colleague Paul passed away suddenly on Friday April 3rd, 2015. Paul was one of our two Street Workers, and provided on-the-spot support to NDG youth where, when, and how they needed it. His dedication, empathy, and joy were both infectious and inspiring. The loss of this unique and wonderful person is deeply felt throughout the many communities Paul touched with his light.

bees 1

Please join us in celebrating Paul’s memory and time with us. On Tuesday May 26th, we invite community members to gather together to plant seeds around NDG – in honour of Paul’s impact on the neighbourhood. The seeds we will help support and nourish bees contributing to environmental and community wellbeing; philosophies that embodied Paul’s work and represents Head & Hands’ approach to holistic health.

paul-robert_rivet_avis

There are a number of ways to participate in this memorial:

  • On May 26th you can join us at 5833 Sherbrooke West (our main office) to pick up seedbombs as of 2pm. You are invited to join a small walking group that will leave around 2:15pm or you can grab the seeds and commemorate Paul in your own way.
  • We will give out seeds until they run out – so if you can’t make it on the 26th and would like to participate, give us a call and if we have any left we would be happy for you to come get some.

 

If you need support, we invite you to please call us at our main office at 514-481-0277.  

Behind the Numbers: The Human Impact of Austerity at Head & Hands

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This May 1st, International Workers’ Day, Head & Hands will be closing our offices and taking to the streets in two anti-austerity actions. While it’s important to us to remain accessible to our clients by keeping regular office hours whenever possible, we also know that in order to ensure our sustainability as an organization and affirm the rights of our clients to access holistic, non-judgmental social, medical, and legal services, we must join our voices with those taking a stand against austerity.

In a nutshell, austerity refers to the widespread government cuts to education; arts and culture; environmental protection; social assistance; public health; and public sector spending overall.  Various studies show that the cumulative effects of these cuts actually cost governments more in the long run, which begs the question, who does austerity really benefit? Cutting spending for public services moves costs to the individual or to the private sphere where profit is the bottom line. For example, cuts to public health burden the individual with costs for necessary items such as bandages, crutches, and medication follow-up while helping the companies who make these items to prosper. This pushes those who are already cash-poor further into poverty and increases the need for Head & Hands’ resources, like the food pantry.

picking up food for the food pantry!

picking up food for the food pantry!

 

Austerity benefits big corporate growth built on the backs of people with whom Head & Hands shares community and stands in solidarity. Cuts to the public sphere benefit the wealthiest and most privileged people in our society while contributing to the ongoing marginalization of the individuals we serve, affecting their rights, safety, and well-being.  This kind of scarcity model creates a culture of fear by promoting the erroneous idea that there aren’t enough resources to go around, which directly  feeds racism; already, recent polls show that a quarter of Canadians feel too many non-white immigrants are coming to Canada, which contributes to cycles of systemic and institutional violence against people of colour.

Austerity means cuts to the crucial services that marginalized communities need. However, framing this conversation simply in terms of “need” and “marginalization” alone is patronizing and misses the bigger picture: as people who share the identities of queer, trans*, woman, person of colour, cashpoor, and disabled, we not only need but deserve and are entitled to well-funded public services to help us navigate the multiple oppressions capitalism, colonization, and white supremacy have thrown at us.  Our marginalization isn’t accidental, and austerity seeks to further marginalize us for corporate profits.

via http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/dave-bush/2013/04/austerity-working-and-thats-problem

via http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/dave-bush/2013/04/austerity-working-and-thats-problem

As a not-for-profit community organization that works with  people experiencing the impacts of marginalization, we see the effects of dwindling funding every day. Austerity-minded funding cuts are directly impacting our funders and community partners, leading to rapid growth in the number of youth accessing our services that outpaces the growth of our own limited resources. Last year alone we had over 24,000 youth visits; distributed 2,490 clean needles; provided social counselling services to 392 youth, spent 180 hours giving by-donation legal advice, and had 78 medical clinics. The waiting time for our trans* clients to get an appointment to start hormone therapy is currently over a year. In our neighbourhood of NDG, one quarter  of residents live below the poverty line. At Head&Hands, we are uniquely situated in that we offer an incredibly wide range of services that are accessible to Montreal youth regardless of income and without discrimination. We need more organizations like Head & Hands, not fewer.  We’re worried about how these numbers will continue to grow amidst a climate of austerity, and how far will we have to stretch our budget and ourselves to be there for our community. In all of this, it is important to remember: behind these numbers are people’s lives.

This is why we’re going to be be joining with our community and taking to the streets this Friday, May 1st! Donations from our community to support Head & Hands as we adapt to austerity agendas are more crucial than ever, so please visit our donation page or contact Malaika, our Fundraising and Development Coordinator, at gifts@headandhands.ca or 514-481-0277.  Together, let’s take a stand against austerity!

Head & Hands: in the streets against austerity

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Join us in the streets!This Friday, May 1st, the streets of Montreal will be filled from morning until evening with people gathering to protest austerity.  We’re gonna be there, and we invite you to join us!

Tomorrow, we’ll be posting here again with a detailed explanation of Head & Hands’ perspective on this issue (but see this post from 2012 for a general idea).

Today, we’re sharing details about how you can be a part of the action on Friday, either by marching with us or attending one of the many other events being organized across the city and throughout the day!

Head & Hands will be participating in two different May 1 actions this year, and we welcome clients, donors, volunteers, collaborators, and community members to join us.  Our first meetup of the day will be to attend this gathering of community groups and allies in order to raise our voices against cuts to social services and privatization of public goods.  We’ll gather at 9:15am, at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and de Maisonneuve, next to the “singing swings”.  Look for the Head & Hands banner, and at least one of these three friendly faces:

team may 1Our next meetup will be at 6:15pm, in the very same place.  Look for one of those same faces above, and also the H&H banner once again.  This time, we’ll be joining a huge gathering of people from various sectors to march against austerity in all its forms, and promote our vision of a more egalitarian society.

We really hope to see you there!!  If you can’t find us at either of these events, feel free to text either 438-827-4999 or 438-764-1877.

Also, for those of you who want to get into the spirit of things before Friday, we invite you to join us on Wednesday afternoon at this banner-making session organized by the NDG Community Council.  It’s gonna be so cute!

Love and solidarity, and see you in the streets,

-H&H

10 years and 10 facts about the SERVE TOURNAMENT!

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serveis10

 *image descriptions to come!*

Hey H&H community!

My name is Kay and I am this year’s Serve Tournament Coordinator! (Not gonna lie – I practiced saying that a few times in the mirror leading up to my interview for this position.) I am so excited to get to work with the incredible team at Head & Hands to help produce this year’s Serve Tournament, in support of the amaaazing Sense Project!

Given that this is actually the TENTH year of Serve, I figured I’d give you one fact about Serve for every year we’ve been around, and sprinkle in some fun tidbits about me here and there too so we can get to know each other a little better. Ready?

FACT #1: This year’s Serve tournament is taking place Sunday July 26, which is 168 days before the end of the year, and 1+6+8 is 15, and 15 is the age I was when I came out to my little sister (she said “I don’t care what gender they are, I don’t want to think about you kissing *anybody*!!” … fair enough, sis.)

image description: two cute little girls, one 4 and one 2. they are both white and blonde. the one on the left is wearing a giant straw hat, a striped grey and white shirt with a pink and yellow shirt underneath. she is reaching out to her left toward her younger sister, who is wearing a similar giant straw hat, a long sleeved white shirt and a floral dress overtop. she is also reaching out and touching her sister on the shoulder. this is me and my sister in the 90s!
me and my sis!

 

FACT#2: The Sense Project was created in 2005 in response to the Quebec education reform, which virtually eliminated sexual health education from the high school curriculum. In 2005, I created a patented rag-on-the-end-of-a-broom technique to chase spiders out of a boathouse without having to directly touch them with my hands, which means that Sense and I are all about YOUTH INGENUITY.

image description: colour photo of a brown striped dock spider centered in frame, with text. the image is titled "dock spider facts" in white text with a green background, and various facts surround the spider, in brown circles with white text. the facts, going clockwise, are as follows: "they can swim!" "they can catch fish!" "they carry the egg sac in their fangs!" and "they walk on water!"
terrifying.

 

FACT#3: Since the beginning of Sense Project, some 300 volunteers have been trained as workshop facilitators, providing holistic and non-judgmental info on everything from sex to how our bodies work to consent to relationships to safer drug and alcohol use. I am also a trained peer sexual health facilitator through this wicked project in Toronto called Empower! Youth and I am super passionate about youth and sexual health promotion.

image description: photo of a person standing with their back to us, their hands are on their hips and we can only see from their waist down. they are wearing light blue mom jeans with a skinny brown belt. different hands of people of different races are reaching towards this person's epic butt.
this is actually my butt.

 

FACT#4: The Serve Tournament was actually started by a group of restaurant employees to help raise money for Serve and contribute to their community, and it’s been a raging success ever since.

FACT#5: Last year’s Serve tournament raised $40,400 for youth sexual health education!

FACT #6: Head&Hands (perhaps unsurprisingly) is home to a number of Virgos. My dad is a Virgo! So either we are all going to enjoy some brutal puns together or argue about politics. Or maybe both – time will tellllll.

image description: a black and white illustration of wings, with black lines stretching up from the bottom of the frame and the word "virgo" in an italic font at the base of the image. the centre of the image has beautiful wings stretching out toward the right and left of the image, and three strands of oats overlapping between the wings. above the wings is the virgo constellation.
from The Wild Unknown (I covet their tarot!)

 

FACT#7: On average, Serve participants drink roughly 18 kegs of beer. When a keg of beer is tapped it stays fresh for approximately 12 hours, so even at the end of the long, hot day of volleyball in the sun, our beer is gonna be super tasty! Me, I also stay cool and fresh under pressure and barely sweat at all, so I can assure you I’ll probably smell okay if we are standing next to each other cheering on the teams at Serve.

FACT#8: On another beer-related note, Parc Jeanne Mance, where we hold the tournament every year, has a wild connection to beer making. No really. In 1879, it was actually named by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as a significant source of this psychoactive plant called henbane that before the German Beer Purity Law (a real thing too, still in use today by German beer makers!) was used as a flavouring agent in beer! I don’t know how to connect this to me really except to tell you that I am the sort of nerd who got really excited about learning this fact.

 

image description: a photo of the plant henbane growing in what seems to be a park, caged by a black oval cage, with a sign on the front. the sign has an image of a skull and crossbones, and reads "hysocyamus niger, henbane". there is two paragraphs of text with more information below that is too small for me to read/caption!
henbane!

 

FACT #9: Last year, our hosts at Serve were Juniper, the former Fundraising and Development Coordinator, and Julie, both of whom are talented, femme-identifying musicians and performers. Me, I’m a singer and a femme too. FEMME POWAAAH!!

image description: an embroidered pair of hands. the hands are embroidered in black, and have hot pink nails. one of the hands is painting the middle finger of the other hand, which is raised in a "fuck you" gesture.
source: FemmeThings etsy shop

 

FACT#10: I tried out for my school’s volleyball team three times, and didn’t get picked. This year at Serve we’ll be bringing back the LOSERS’ TOURNAMENT, an opportunity for people like me to get some measure of glory and dignity back and reclaim our right to have fun playing sports!

Well team, I hope this has been informative. For me it’s been mildly humiliating BUT it’s also gotten me jazzed about this year’s event (and given me some ideas for future less research-intensive blog posts.) If you have any questions about Serve — or wanna get involved!! — feel free to shoot me an email: serve@headandhands.ca.

SEE YOU ON THE COURTS!!

The Serve Tournament is Seeking Volunteers!!

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The Serve Tournament needs YOU for our volunteer Planning Committee!

The Serve Tournament, an annual beach volleyball tournament fundraiser, is seeking three (3) people to join its volunteer Planning Committee! Now in its 10th consecutive year, Serve raises funds to support the Sense Project, Head & Hands’ non-judgmental and inclusive sex education program by and for youth. This year’s tournament will take place Sunday July 26th at Parc Jeanne Mance (corner of Park and Duluth).

The Planning Committee is responsible for supporting the Serve Coordinator in various aspects of organizing the event. Volunteers are asked to commit an average of 15 hours per month, from May 1st 2015 to August 1st 2015.

We are looking for individuals to fill the following positions:

Sponsorships Coordinator: The Sponsorship Coordinator will be responsible for securing food and prize sponsorships for the event. Responsibilities include: researching potential sponsorships, approaching local businesses for food and prize sponsorships, picking up prizes, documentation and follow up, and thanking sponsors.

Participant Coordinators (2): The Participant Coordinators will work directly with the Serve Coordinator to establish relationships with bars, restaurants, cafés, and other establishments participating in the tournament. Responsibilities include: recruiting and signing up teams, supporting teams with fundraising efforts, attending bar/restaurant fundraisers. ***Due to provincial liquor laws, volunteers for this position must be over the age of 18***

In addition to these profiles, all volunteers will assist with promotion and outreach regarding the event including social media updates, postering/flyering, and helping get the word out about Serve! In exchange for your time, we are happy to offer leadership development and support, skill building, letters of reference, and/or volunteer hours.

To apply, email Kay at serve@headandhands.ca with a cover letter explaining which position interests you, why you want to get involved with Serve, and what you would bring to the Planning Committee (you can talk about your previous experiences, motivation, personal interests – anything you feel is relevant to the position!). Working knowledge of both French and English is required for these public-facing positions, but letters may be submitted in either language.\

Applications are due April 24th at 10:00 A.M!

Head & Hands welcomes the contributions that individuals from traditionally marginalized communities bring to the organization. We encourage applicants to identify in their letter the unique perspective they would bring to Head & Hands. Please also feel free to consult our website for tips on writing a cover letter!

Click here for a PDF: Committee callout_ english

Paul-Robert Rivet: 1979-2015

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paul-robert_rivet_avisWe are extremely saddened to share the news that our dear colleague Paul passed away suddenly on Friday April 3rd, 2015. Paul was one of our two Street Workers, and provided on-the-spot support to NDG youth where, when, and how they needed it. His dedication, empathy, and joy were both infectious and inspiring. The loss of this unique and wonderful person is deeply felt throughout the many communities Paul touched with his light.

Head & Hands’ offices were closed from April 7th-13th in order to grieve Paul’s loss and begin recovering as a team. Our doors reopened for services yesterday, but will close again tomorrow April 16th for the full day. We will reopen once again on Friday the 17th, and any future closures will be announced here. We thank our community for being patient with us as we work to restore services as quickly as possible while respecting the needs of our team members.

We will be organizing a community event in the coming weeks to honour Paul’s memory and celebrate his life. We will share details of that event here as plans are finalized.

We invite anyone who needs support working through their grief to contact us – either in person at our main office (5833 Sherbrooke W), or by phone at 514-481-0277.

The resource below also provides individual support to help cope with loss, and is available by phone 24/7:

Montreal crisis centre network (choose your neighbourhood to get a phone number):
http://www.rccgm.com/section-13-les-centres