05 October 2016
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I want to tell you today about the remarkable work being done by Boyle Street Community Services, a non-profit agency in Edmonton. Founded in 1971, it is an inner-city agency that serves 12,000 individual clients and handles at least 150,000 visits per year. Eighty per cent of Boyle Street Community Services' clients are of Aboriginal descent, making it the largest indigenous-serving organization in Edmonton. The agency operates out of eight sites throughout the city, in addition to its street outreach program.
I had the opportunity to visit Boyle Street earlier this year. I learned that it provides 40 different programs to help address the complex needs of its clients, many of whom are faced with challenges like addiction, mental health issues, homelessness and intergenerational trauma. The centre offers health services, housing, employment services, indigenous cultural services and family services.
The work that Boyle Street Community Services undertakes is literally reconciliation in action, as most programs are direct attempts to support the healing of trauma, largely cultural trauma related to the Indian residential school experience. The centre's vision is to see that all people grow healthier through involvement in strong, accepting and respectful communities.
Boyle Street Community Services has had and continues to have a lasting and substantial impact on many lives. Eighty-five per cent of the previously homeless individuals housed in its housing program remain housed today. Eighty per cent of the children brought into its child welfare program are now living at home or in kinship care. There are still 20 per cent in group homes. Before the centre started its work, the statistics were exactly the opposite: 80 per cent of children served were in group homes and 20 per cent were in homes.
Due to year-on-year growth of demand for services at Boyle Street — exacerbated, unfortunately, by the economic downturn in Alberta — the centre has reached its physical and program capacity. As a result, Boyle Street is looking to redevelop its centre to create — with federal, provincial and municipal government partners and providers — a multi-service, multi- sector building with an indigenous design. The design is beautiful. This new building will allow Boyle Street to provide its existing services and add much-needed new ones for its clients, such as housing for over 100 people, significantly enhanced mental health and addiction services, 24-7 laundry, shower and bathroom facilities and day care services.
Thanks to its resilient, compassionate and family-oriented staff and volunteers, many of whom I met that day, Boyle Street Community Services is a vital service to the people of Edmonton. There is no question that it is a source of hope and opportunity for a better future for many.
Please click here to read this speech in French / Veuillez appuyer ici pour lire ce discours en français.