Giving Back The Support

March 1, 2018

Justin standing against a white background with their hands in their pockets. Justin is wearing a red tank top with black and white screen print, black pants, and a red head band. Justin has braided hair and is smiling at the camera.

A newcomer, refugee claimant, and a volunteer at The 519, Justin has been keeping busy in his first year in Canada. 

If Justin is not at The 519 to attend a weekly session of Among Friends, our program for refugee claimants, he is at the centre doing volunteer work. He also spends time giving advice and emotional support to anyone who needs it. 

“I love hanging out at The 519, that’s why I am always here.”

Justin, 21, left Barbados and arrived in Canada in April 2017 to claim refuge as a member of the LGBTQ community. At such a young age, he was determined to live a life with love, acceptance and full participation – something he was unable to find in the country of his origin. He made the decision to leave after being forced to go to ‘therapy’ and religious studies by his parents who could not accept his sexual orientation. 

During Green Space Festival 2017, Justin worked on token sales stations as a volunteer with other team members – an experience he really enjoyed and learnt from as he wants to pursue banking as a career. 

“It was very demanding but exhilarating to volunteer at the Green Space Festival.”

What he loves most about coming to The 519 and the gay village is the freedom of expression – to be who you are.  

Justin is plans to pursue higher education in Canada as he copes with the emotional trauma he had experienced, and the rejection he continues to receive from his loved ones. The social network he has gained by participating in our refugee program and volunteering at the centre is providing him the sense of community that he needs. 

Through his volunteer work at The 519, Justin is also giving back to that community – whether it is by helping out with the registration process of new participants of Among Friends, supporting the sales team during Green Space Festival, or by sharing his positive energy with others around him.