An advocate for other youth from care, JUSTIN is a graduate of Seneca College’s business management program, which he completed with support from Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada funding. Entering foster care at the age of 12 due to his mother’s challenges with addiction, he moved between kinship placements and struggled to build his identity and sense of stability. Now 23, he is eager to continue to build his independence and a career in business.
Read his story below:
*The opinions and views expressed in this article are that of the youth in profile, and not necessarily reflective of the official opinion or position of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.
“I think my experiences in foster care helped me understand what it means to really care for someone through the good times and the bad times. I [developed] a newfound appreciation for myself and my family.”
“By the time I was about 12, my mother was struggling with substance abuse. That led to me getting involved with the Children’s Aid Society and they’ve been supporting me for the last decade. I was in kinship care with my aunt and then I moved in with my sister. It was pretty difficult, because every time I moved it meant that I had to switch schools. When I lived with my sister that was the best experience, because she was very open and understanding at the time.”
“I used to be a loud, outgoing kid, but I think as a teenager I became more reserved because of what I was going through. These last couple years, I was able to build a bit of my confidence back, but as a teenager [my care experience] was very detrimental to my self-esteem. It was tough not having a stable foundation right away, and I think that’s where confidence comes from. When you know that you’re going to be OK and things will be consistent, you can go through life with a sense of purpose.”
“I define family as people whose needs you put before your own. It doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily biologically related, but if you put their needs ahead of your own, they’re your family. Going through the experiences that I have, my bond with my siblings is now pretty much unbreakable. I think my experiences in care helped me understand what it means to really care for someone through the good times and the bad times. I [developed] a newfound appreciation for myself and my family.”
“When I was growing up, participating in group activities through my church and other groups like Toastmasters, led me to really understand what it means to care not only about my own situation, but about the situations of others, as well. I’ve always been my own person with my own dreams and ambitions, and I think that I’m a resilient person. I think you can build resilience, especially if you’re forced into a situation where you have to [survive].”
“Youth from care are often put in to the same category; I don’t think enough attention is given to the fact that situations vary so much [for them]. Within the general public, it’s important for people to know that even though youth may have been [placed with a stable family], they still need support. Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada has been able to support me in terms of educational funding. I graduated Seneca College and took Business Management. Right now, I’m trying to get my foot in the door – I’d like to work my way up through managerial experiences, and work in business.”