At Covenant House, we see many Black youth who have lived in the ugly shadow of racism. The impacts of racism and discrimination appear every day in the form of poverty, homelessness and human trafficking.

Our team strives to give the young people at Covenant House the unconditional love and respect that all young people deserve. These brave youth building their lives with us deserve to live in safety and with hope, as do all Black people and people of colour.

We spoke with Nene, who currently resides in our CIBC Rights of Passage program. Like many of our young people, she finds it hard to face the anti-Black racism and violence occurring across North America.

“After seeing the George Floyd video, I felt my heart fall out of my chest. I couldn’t even finish it,” Nene explains. “I kept asking myself, ‘How do the police feel about doing that – watching someone’s soul leave their body?’”

As someone who grew up in Nigeria, Nene rarely experienced racism. However, it wasn’t until she moved to Canada that she became aware of the racism and inequality that come with being Black. Coming to this realization, she got to a point where she decided enough was enough:

I’m Black. I care about my future and my generation. If we can have change right now, our future generation will be in a better place.

Nene has involved herself in the Black Lives Matter movement by raising awareness through social media. Also, she has shown support to other youth by openly talking about the movement and being there for one another.

Nene expressed how thankful she is for the support she, and other youth, have received from our staff:

“The Black staff here have given me awareness about what’s going on, and they’ve educated me about what racism looks like in Canada. I really enjoy learning about their perspectives.”

The more people are willing to learn and speak out against racism, the more hopeful Nene is about the change that can come.

“As much as we really want to change the system, change has to come from every one of us.”

Covenant House stands in solidarity with our youth, staff and members of our community who have experienced racism, particularly anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination. Let’s lift our voices together to confront and dismantle racism and violence and build the world our youth need and deserve.