Home/Approach/Making the Shift Scholars With Lived Experience Network

MtS Scholars With Lived Experience Network

We believe there is so much potential in people who have experienced youth homelessness to advance their well-being through education and to contribute to all areas of scholarship. We also believe in building an empowered, peer-led community with lived expertise who can advise researchers and personnel working to prevent and end youth homelessness. The Scholars with LivEx Network is a network created by and for members in the areas of mentorship, training, and peer-to-peer learning for people with lived experience of youth homelessness (LivEx) to grow as leaders in their academic pursuits.

The vision of the MtS Scholars with LivEx Network is to be a national community and incubator for scholars at any stage in their career who have experienced youth homelessness to grow their network, develop their leadership capacity, and mentor each other as academics and scholars.

The Network embodies these core values:

Intersectionality, diversity and anti-oppression;

  • Governance transparency and accountability within the Network;
  • Safe, flexible, accessible, supportive activities and spaces;
  • Trauma-informed practice (see definition from the Homeless Hub);
  • Harm-reduction (see definition from the Homeless Hub);
  • Decolonizing practice and cultural safety.

One of the key challenges Canada faces in addressing youth homelessness has been a reluctance to embrace the importance and potential of prevention. Our goal is to transform how services are delivered, policies are made, and systems are planned, placing a greater emphasis on early intervention and other prevention efforts that are designed to prevent young people from ever having to experience homelessness before they get the support they need.

The MtS Scholars With LivEx Network is hosted and supported by the MtS Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab. It is governed by the LivEx Steering Committee for a one year term.

The Network will be a community created by and for scholars with lived experience with youth homelessness to:

  • Access mentorship, networking, leadership, training, and capacity-building opportunities, within the Network and beyond, to support and accelerate career paths;
  • Participate in opportunities to advise and engage with researchers, policy-makers, and frontline workers on perspectives of people with lived experience, to help effect systems change in youth homelessness prevention and exits;
  • Be part of a supportive, active community where members have the opportunity to mentor one another, connect with others who share experiences with youth homelessness, and help to co-create and shape the Network.

If you:

  1. Have had an experience with youth homelessness between the ages of 13 and 24 in the past or present, and
  2. Are a scholar at any stage in your career—whether you are looking to return to post-secondary education, or are currently enrolled in training or school, or are established in your field and looking to mentor others;

this Network is for you!

We use the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness’ definition of youth homelessness. It refers to the situation and experience of young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who are living independently of parents and/or caregivers, but do not have the means or ability to acquire a stable, safe or consistent residence.

This can include living on the streets, in shelters, or institutions with no fixed address, but also includes hidden youth homelessness, where a person may be temporarily ‘couchsurfing’ with relatives, friends, neighbours, or strangers without the means and ability to acquire immediate prospects for permanent housing.

We recognize that the causes and experiences of youth homelessness are diverse and look different for each individual. If you would like to talk to us about your fit for the network, you can reach us at mtslivex@yorku.ca

For Indigenous peoples, for example, the experience of homelessness encompasses more than a lack of physical housing, and is more fully described and understood through a composite lens of Indigenous worldviews. These include: individuals, families and communities isolated from their relationships to land, water, place, family, kin, each other, animals, cultures, languages and identities. Importantly, Indigenous people experiencing these kinds of homelessness cannot culturally, spiritually, emotionally or physically reconnect with their Indigeneity or lost relationships (Aboriginal Standing Committee on Housing and Homelessness, 2012).

You can express your interest in joining the Network, or learning more about the Network, by contacting mtslivex@yorku.ca

No matter where along the spectrum you are in your education or career, from aspiring to return to post-secondary, to already being an established scholar, there are opportunities for all interested members who have experienced youth homelessness.

Whether you are an established scholar, an emerging scholar, or want to return to school, you will:

  • Connect and develop relationships with peers within the Scholars with LivEx Network, and other professionals in research, policy, government, front-line service, philanthropy and advocacy within the wider MtS Network Centres of Excellence (NCE);
  • Participate in peer mentorship, whether as a mentee in the early stages of their career, or as a mentor for others;
  • Access various professional development opportunities across the NCE including training, speaking engagements, keynotes, and Research Assistantships;
  • Have opportunities to hone advocacy skills by sitting on advisory activities to the Making The Shift NCE as a lived expert in youth homelessness prevention and exits;
  • Participate and have your voice heard in other LivEx created opportunities and projects.

The Network is shaped and governed by scholars with lived experience. The Scholars With LivEx Steering Committee is responsible for the stewardship and operationalization of the Network. It includes Co-Chair Dr. Alina Turner, Making The Shift’s Training Coordinator, and for year one, Jayne Malefant, Charlotte Smith, Nancy Henderson, Caroline Leblanc and Linda Coltman.

There will be a rotating opportunity for an additional Network member to sit on the Steering Committee. This position is paid by honorarium.

Activities of the Steering Committee include:

  • Guiding and refining governance and operations of the Network;
  • Steering regular communications with Network members;
  • Ensuring the Network and its activities are continuously driven by and accountable to its core values and ethics (see Q1).

While most activities in the Network are volunteer, there are occasional opportunities that will have honoraria attached to them, such as sitting on the Steering Committee or Advisory Committee.