These past few weeks have been busy while at Raising the Roof. In particular, Raising the Roof’s project department had the opportunity to attend two thought-provoking conferences: YouthREX’s 2018 Knowledge to Action gathering, and the annual Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness conference.

Free Knowledge & Resources Ahead!

At Raising the Roof, what we love more than knowledge mobilization is free knowledge mobilization! In this two-part blog post, we will share some of our favourite moments from both gatherings, along with some of the resources that we’ve obtained.

YouthREX’s Knowledge to Action

 YouthREX’s 2018 Knowledge to Action session was a 3-day event that gathered youth sector stakeholders from across Ontario, to share and engage their knowledge in youth work.

With learning opportunities ranging from workshops, keynote speakers, and panel sessions, here are some of our team’s highlights from YouthREX’s 2018 Knowledge to Action.

Raising the Roof Reacts to YouthREX:

Jenny’s thoughts:

“It’s one thing to understand the problem, and it’s another to figure out how to be part of the solution.” –Samuel Sinyangwe

I absolutely loved Samuel Sinyangwe’s keynote talk on “Using Data for Racial Justice. As a data scientist and activist, Samuel Sinyangwe was able to effortlessly captivate the audience in how he uses data not only to uncover the racial disparity among populations experiencing police violence, but also to achieve social change by debunking the false narratives that dismiss these realities.

For anyone who is looking for some inspiration on using data to impact social change, be sure to check out Samuel Sinyangwe’s session

Elisa’s thoughts:

“I have followed YouthREX for many years, attending different events and training along the way. I have to say 2018 Knowledge to Action Exchange was one of the best they have ever hosted. This event spanned three days with Pre- & Post-KtA Exchange activities.

I would like to focus my ‘reactions’ on the Pre-Exchange Session I attended on Restorative Justice in Youth Work and the Post-Exchange Visioning Day: Working Towards Truth and Reconciliation in Ontario’s Youth Sector.


This workshop had two parts, first Toronto-based Youth Worker Rick Kelly provided the theoretical framework for Restorative Justice – a philosophy/approach of justice which uses a community circle session to provide mediation between an offender, victim(s) and community members.

Then, Eric Butler, form Oakland, California shared his “Talking Peace” model of restorative justice. In particular, Eric’s frank approach to establishing shared community values and the importance of a shared accountability approach to supporting youth with touches with the criminal justice system was eye opening.

One audience member asked Eric, “How do you get so many community members to agree to sit down for a restorative justice circle for just one youth, amidst their busy schedule?” Eric’s reply was so simple: “Find people who want to make things better and they will find the time.”

While Eric strolled through the crowd holding a plush baby doll, asking his audience members ‘how should we raise our baby?’, I had a revelation. The ‘it takes a village’ concept, or in this case, it takes a community to support a youth exiting corrections, can only be realized through deep de-colonization of our youth work practice. This bring me to my next reaction…


During the Visioning Day, YouthREX gathered youth, elders and community members to contemplate one question: “How might the youth sector work ‘in a good way’ to address the legacy of residential schools, close gaps and remove barriers, support Indigenous culture, and reconcile relationships with Indigenous people?”

Through a carefully curated set of talks and activities, the group was encouraged to hold space for the truth about Canada’s problematic past and present, and vision the future of reconciliation in youth work. This exercise in exploring howwe can decolonize our practice was truly invaluable.

To close the day, each participant was asked to write their own personal commitment strategy, on how they planned to take their vision forward and create action. Through this day, I learned the importance of working behind the scenes to access funding for Indigenous youth-led programming and then moving out of the way to let it happen.

Since the exchange, the YouthREX team has reached out to participants to check in on their progress towards their commitment and provided support to see them through.”

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