The night of May 4th will be the first time Iqra Ajaz has slept outdoors on a piece of cardboard.
And she’ll be doing it solo, a one-woman team representing her workplace, Granite REIT, a commercial real estate investment trust where she works as the Director of Human Resources.
But Iqra knows she’ll be far from alone: In fact, she will be one of the more than 160 people registered to take part in Sleep Out: Champions Edition. That’s a record-breaking number of sleepers in the event’s 10 years of raising funds and awareness to support the critical work of Covenant House Toronto.
She’s excited to be one of the 122 first-time participants taking part this year.
“At first, I was very hesitant because of the security reasons, because [of the idea that] I was going to literally be sleeping on the street,” she said. “I didn’t think I was ready.” But Iqra was quickly reassured by the logistics of the event and the immense community presence of Sleep Out.
Sleep Out is a unique learning opportunity for those hoping to support youth experiencing homelessness in our community. Participants first share a meal with youth, staff and fellow participants to hear about the work Covenant House is doing to support youth. Then, participants will go outdoors to sleep side by side.
When she first learned about Sleep Out, Iqra was passionate about not just taking part but in being part of making the event happen as a member of the event’s organizing committee.
“These youth are our future – we have to be there for them.”
The solution to ending homelessness isn’t an easy one. But she is encouraged and inspired by the way Covenant House meets the immediate needs of youth and then works to help them build stable, rewarding lives – a life with homelessness firmly in the rearview.
“We’re a wealthy country - nobody should be on the street,” Iqra says. “Going through this experience will help provide a glimpse into the struggles youth face and will reignite the fire in me to work towards doing more to support them.”