IAN, 27, is a youth ambassador with Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, and a former youth in care. He is a recipient of scholarship and grant funding, as well as support from the Friends and Loved Ones Fund and pre-employment support. He participated in the RBC Career Launch Program, received support from the HSBC Bank Canada National Transformation Program, and now works full-time as a subcontractor for CAA. Entering foster care at the age of 14 due to abuse at home, IAN avoided a life of crime and with the support of the Foundation and other important people in his life, has created his own success and looks forward to a future of career advancement and using his knowledge and experience to do what makes him happiest: helping others.
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.
“Without the support of the Foundation, my life could have gone down a very dark path.”
“I came into care because of verbal and physical abuse at home, and growing up in poverty. Little to no supervision lead to my involvement in gangs and drugs and I ended up in jail, then foster care at the age of 14. My care experience was life-changing in a positive way. Without the foster care experience, I would likely have become involved in crime.”
“The biggest challenge when I first entered care was learning to be away from my home and my friends. It took time but eventually, I realized that the present is what truly matters. Being in care it was challenging to stay out of trouble and keep away from my previous ties in the city. Being away from my family for the majority of my teen years was also hard. I believe the distance left a gap in the relationship between my parents and me, and this is something I will never be able to rebuild with my late father.”
“When it got closer to the day I had to leave care, many worries started to sink in, such as ‘will I have a place to live? Even if I lived with a friend how long could I rely on that?’ I also worried about ever seeing or talking to my twin brother again after he decided to move into a new home with a different family. It’s been over a year since I’ve heard from him now. Transitioning out of care was not easy.”
“One of the biggest barriers to youth in care is accessing supports available to them and knowing what supports exist. Without support, it is unimaginably more difficult to overcome the barriers at-risk youth face in today’s world. I want to use my experiences to explain to other young people the different ways Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada is there to help and how they can leverage these supports to create a long-lasting foundation from which to build on.”
“Over the years, the Foundation has supported me with grants, scholarships, the Friends and Loved Ones Fund, counseling, and job-seeking help. This funding allowed me to visit my foster parent over the holidays and complete my business and human resources diploma from Sheridan College. I also gained full-time employment through the RBC Career Launch Program after being referred by the Foundation. I gained confidence in myself as a business professional, peer mentor, and youth ambassador.”
“Currently, I am working as a subcontractor for CAA. In September 2018, I was named the RBC Q3 spotlight award winner in the downtown market, as well as the Branch Community Involvement/Online Banking Champion.”
“I am an active volunteer across many organizations. I’m a youth mentor for the Peer Project and a youth ambassador of Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada. I also constantly volunteer on my own and with colleagues at many events related to the Foundation, homeless shelters, and other nonprofit programs such as Meals on Wheels.”
“In the future, I hope to become a foster parent, advance my career, and continue making a big difference through encouraging corporate donations as a youth ambassador for the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.”
“Through everything, I have learned that it is possible to have more than one family. My foster parent and his entire family treat me like a little brother, even 12 years after the first day my brother and I moved in. I also have friends whose family took me in at 18 and treated me like a son, and still do to this day. I also know it is possible to lose family even if they are just a few kilometers away. The one who is supposed to be closest to me, my twin brother, feels like the furthest one away.”
“There are many factors that helped me get to where I am today, including the support of the doctors who helped me with my mental health, Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, RBC, my foster parents, my family, and my own will to succeed. Without the support of the Foundation, my life could have gone down a very dark path.”
“I am eternally thankful for the generosity and kindness of Foundation donors. I can now live a successful and meaningful life, with the opportunity to give back. I believe wholeheartedly this is a direct result of the opportunities presented to me by Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.”