Yukon homelessness, poverty action group shares their stories on paper

A group of people who have experienced poverty and homelessness in the Yukon have put pen to paper to introduce themselves to the public. The group, Voices Influencing Change, has released a booklet which details their backgrounds, their work and their vision for the future.

That future should have more people with “lived experience” at the table making decisions, said one of the contributors, Frederick ‘Fritz’ Andre. “I believe people with lived experience — we do have a voice, we can make an impact. And this book is just the beginning,” he said. ‘Whether it’s social justice or housing or health. We we can make an impactful difference.” Andre joined Voices Influencing Change shortly seven years ago, shortly after it started. He spoke at a gathering in Whitehorse on Wednesday to mark the milestone launch of the booklet, called Voices Influencing Change: Our Story.

Earlier in the day, the group also celebrated five new graduates. Thirty-two people in total have completed its ten-session storytelling, advocacy and leadership course. Since it started in 2017, the group has contributed to consultations by Yukon Government, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, on topics including housing, health and income support.

Members have also presented to high school groups, delivered a delegation to the City of Whitehorse, and volunteered at community events. “It’s just so wonderful to see the faces in here and to reflect back on some of the things that we’ve done,” Andre said. “I’m so proud of this book. It’s far exceeded my expectations. I think this book is going to go a long way to provide sort of a rough guideline for any other lived experience groups that would like to get started and to see what they can do,” he said.

“I think it’s really important for us to serve, to be out there, because we are doing good work and it’s taken us a long time to get to here. We’re no longer so invisible.” The group is run through the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

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