Youth Info


The Coming Up Together organizers made a commitment to appeal to homeless or formerly homeless young people through dedicated youth content and events. Designed by our youth planning committee, made up of young people with lived experiences of homelessness, the conference’s dedicated youth stream will provide information, workshops, and resources for young people who are currently or were formerly homeless. There will also be a low-stress hangout space provided for young conference attendees.

Visual Arts Showcase – FSS 4012

Visual art created by homeless and formerly homeless young people will be available for purchase throughout the conference. All sales are cash or cheque, with 100% of proceeds going to the artists. The visual arts showcase is located in room FSS 4012 on the 4th floor and will be open:

Tuesday, February 20th   9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Wednesday, February 21st   9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Thursday, February 22nd   9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Youth Chill Out Lounge – FSS 6032

A lounge will be available for young conference attendees (30 and under) seeking a low-stress space away from the hustle and bustle of the conference. The chill-out lounge is located in room 6032 on the sixth floor and will be equipped with refreshments, games, arts and crafts. The lounge will be open:

Tuesday, February 20th 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Wednesday, February 21st 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Thursday, February 22nd 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

WORKSHOPS (all taking place in FSS 4006)

February 20th: Day 1

Harm Reduction Ottawa Network of People Acting for Harm Reduction (ONPAHR) [10:30-11:45

The Ottawa Network of People Acting for Harm Reduction (ONPAHR) is a grassroots organization of current and former drug users founded September 2015. They are a network of peers who are driven, passionate and eager to make changes for the drug using community. In this workshop, participants will learn about harm reduction services in Ottawa. Participants will also receive naloxone training and drug-testing kits.  

Knowing Your Rights – Ottawa Ticket Defence Program and Justice for Children and Youth (Toronto)  [1:15-2:30]

The ticket defence program (TDP-PDC) is a community organization that provides juristic information and basic legal services for street-involved or homeless people.  

Their goal is to challenge the application of laws that are unjust to this already vulnerable segment of the population. They provide representation before the provincial courthouse. TDP accepts two categories of tickets. Within the primary category are those tickets issued under the Safe Streets Act (SSA) that target people living on the streets. The secondary category includes Property Regulations, "jaywalking" tickets under City of Ottawa Bylaws, and “liquor infractions” under the Liquor License Act. This workshop will educate young people about knowing their rights and how to access TDP services in Ottawa.  

Fighting Systemic Barriers – Ethnocultural Youth Advisory [2:45-4:00]

Working with the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa, the Ethno-Cultural Youth Advisory Committee is a volunteer-based team of dedicated individuals who aim to advocate for the voices of ethnocultural youth in Ottawa. We work with organizations offering services to youth and communities to identify and meet the needs of newcomer youth and their families. By promoting on-going dialogue and building strong relationships with service providers, the committee helps to ensure that ethnocultural youth and their families have access to the services and supports they need to transition into Canadian society successfully.

According to the Youth Services Bureau’s annual report, 57% of individuals that are housed in their Long Term Housing Program come from ethnocultural backgrounds.  In this workshop, we will be discussing the systemic barriers that create obstacles for ethnocultural youth to navigate the housing supports system. Furthermore, together we hope to create actionable solutions in overcoming systemic barriers in the housing system, especially for ethnocultural youth. 

February 21st: Day 2  

Pet-care - Michelle Lem [10:30-11:45]

Michelle Lem is a local veterinarian who provides free veterinary care for pets belonging to homeless or at-risk people in Ottawa. Since beginning her outreach services, Michelle has helped to establish outreach services in three other cities: Toronto, Hamilton, and Kitchener-Waterloo. She will deliver a workshop about pet care and education.  

G(r)o(w)ing Through Homelessness Purple Sisters [1:15-2:30]

Through our lived experience, this workshop will challenge the social norms and myths surrounding young women and homelessness.  We will focus on how to deal with isolation and support, as well as learning to trust yourself through your experience with homelessness and keeping safe.  We will give you the tools to tap into your biggest resource: yourself. 

This workshop is led by the Purple Sisters, a young woman’s committee that works in partnership with the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa.  The Purple Sisters works to empower young women from all backgrounds, regardless of class, race, and age, sexual and gender identity, religion and physical and mental ability.   We believe that women have the right to make their own choices that affect themselves, their lives, and their bodies.  We strive to challenge gender roles, create safe spaces, and value diversity. 

Think nationally, act locally: including youth first voices in HPS community planning processes - Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) and A Way Home Canada Provincial Community Planning [2:45-4:00] 

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities and to organizations that address Aboriginal homelessness across Canada.

This consultation will focus on how HPS communities can meaningfully include youth perspectives in their planning processes. In round-table discussions, youth will be invited to share insights about ideas, challenges and promising practices for youth engagement. Following this session youth will have the opportunity to work with HPS to prepare a report summarizing discussions. This report will be shared with participant and stakeholders and inform a model for the federal government to engage marginalized youth in an inclusive, meaningful, and barrier-free way.  

February 22nd : Day 3

Innercity ArtsOttawa Innercity Ministries [10:30-11:45] 

The Ottawa Innercity Ministries Arts Program provides a safe and supportive environment for Ottawa's street-involved youth to engage in the arts community. They believe that every youth has unique strengths that can be built upon to produce lasting change. Through a Strength-Based Approach, youth develop their strengths, gain self-esteem and build positive relationships with their community. This arts-based workshop will be an opportunity for youth to spend time doing visual arts and learn about services available to young people in Ottawa.

Democratic Participation of Homeless Youth: Understanding Barriers to Voting- Elections Canada [1:15-2:30]

Elections Canada (EC) is mandated to inform electors about the exercise of their democratic rights through electoral participation, specifically around registration and voting. On our Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement team, one of our main goals is to reduce information and access barriers to voting participation faced by particular groups. Internal and external research shows us that certain segments of the population experience additional barriers compared to the general public; homeless youth is among one of these groups.

This youth-centered workshop will focus on the barriers to voting faced by youth experiencing homelessness. Representatives from EC will undertake an interactive and tactile activity with participants to spark a conversation about democracy in Canada and youth engagement in civic processes.  

“Nowhere to Come Out: Finding your Q-mmunity” - Queer Youth Action Team and HF4Y Peer Supporters [2:45-4:00]

This workshop will focus on the intersection of queer/trans identity and homelessness. Based on the three principles of Repair, Reconnect, and Reunite; the workshop tackles the obstacles faced by youth in both accepting their identity and building their community. Among the issues discussed: intimate partner violence (IPV), identity policing (both within and outside the LGBTQ community), locating necessary services, developing a found family, and connecting their lived experiences to their community in a meaningful way.

The Queer Youth Action Team (QYAC) and peer workers from the Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) Peer Support Program from the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa will deliver this workshop.  These teams work actively to support the queer and trans youth community in Ottawa.