This important day was created because of the tireless efforts of young people in and from care and the stories and experiences they shared through the My Real Life Book report. The day was proclaimed provincially in the Children and Youth in Care Day Act, 2014, and it is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of current and former youth in care to the province, as well as reduce stigma and acknowledge their strength, bravery, and resilience in the face of adversity.
This year, OACAS is launching a new campaign aimed at bringing renewed attention to the accomplishments and challenges of children and youth in the Ontario child welfare system. The #ForgetMeNot campaign is about sharing the stories of young people with experience in the system and reminding community, government, and service providers that these young people continue to need critical supports. They cannot be forgotten.
Join us on May 14!
This video was brought to life through the contributions of those with lived experience in the Ontario child welfare system. In order of appearance, thank you to: Michael, Alisha, Van, Troy, Elaine, Cheyanne, Rose, Elder Whabagoon, Aidan, Samuel, Rose-Ann, and Brittany.
Thank you to everyone who made it possible.
A talented artist and graphic designer who raised her own siblings as teenagers so they could stay together.
From 19 to 24, I raised my siblings basically until they went off to university. That’s my best accomplishment. I was a teenager and I was raising teenagers, but I did that. I got a place for us to live, I got a car. I was working like three jobs. I do have regrets, like not spending enough time at home, but it was physically impossible for me to be a good parent, to be mentally present, and to be providing all the necessities. But I did that. That’s what I’m most proud of, providing that space for them at that age.
A lifelong learner who is now working in child welfare to improve the lives of young people in his community.
I technically have graduated from post-secondary twice, and I’m working on my third, and will likely be doing it again once I finish that. I have to keep moving forward. I think that’s the most important thing. We just have got to keep on trying. Even if it’s, you know, I want to go and be a chef, I want to be an entrepreneur, or I want to be, you know, a doctor, whatever your goal is: Just. Keep. Pushing.
A trans man who is finding his independence through success at work and in his relationships.
As bad as it was, I did make it out in one piece. For a while, I didn’t think I would. When I came out of care I was freaking out and didn’t think I would go anywhere but now, I’m in a manager position with a boss who absolutely loves me and respects the work that I do. I’m in a great relationship and I’m actually going to be moving out to a bigger place sometime soon. So all things considered, I did good.
A gifted musician who channels her life experiences into her songs.
There are too many people to mention that helped me overcome and keep fighting. Workers I had that really saw my heart and rather than make me feel like I’m just an out-of-control person, they were like, “Oh, I understand why you’re like this, why you’re acting out like this. You have every right to be upset.” When they looked at me with sympathy and respect and nurtured my experience, that made me also see myself with nurture and care and have grace for myself to be like, okay. You deserve better and you can do better. You got this, you know, like you’re not going to let your past and your current situation define you.
A father of three, dedicated to breaking his family’s cycle of child welfare involvement with his own children.
I basically spent my entire life in care, with one family in one household. I feel very, very grateful for that because they gave me the security and space that I needed to grow and to feel comfortable where I was. I know a lot of kids in care have trouble with moving constantly and going to different places and basically just starting a new family all over again. Now I’m a parent and proud of that. Being everything that my birth parents couldn’t be for me, for my kids, and breaking that cycle for them, of my entire family line being in care.
A research and technology professional who found permanency through adoption with his foster mother.
My foster, now adoptive, mother has had such an impact on me. She’s been a constant force and inspiration in getting me to a place of mental security. She is responsible for my educational success. I’m so grateful for her.
A francophone social work student who is using her experiences to advocate for better supports for those aging out of care.
I remember one day I was lashing out and acting out like a regular teenager. And my foster mom sat me down and told me very bluntly, “I know what you’re trying to do. You’re not going anywhere. You’re part of the family. We love you. No matter what’s going on, you’re not changing homes. You’re staying with us.” It was her telling me that she wasn’t going to give up on me. And that’s when my mentality changed and I was like, “Yeah, I’m lovable. Like, I feel value now, I’m worth it.”
I’ve grown through some tough things,
Survived in spite of
Thrived and made light of heavy,
Lifted through concrete and kept steady going.
Paving my own way.
Laid roots. Bloomed.
Put feet to ground and planted in impossible odds.
But I wasn’t alone.
I was first shown that odds were meant to be beat.
I was believed in, poured into, and encouraged on by those who didn’t count me out.
Those that took me in.
Those that took their time.
People who gave me space to define what blossoming meant for me.
Who reminded that success isn’t determined by history, but by a commitment to not forgetting.
It’s no mystery, the flowers that grow are the ones you remember to water.
Forget. Me. Not.
Original poem by David Lewis-Peart.