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The name, HairStory, is a reference to the cultural and expressive significance of hair in Black history.

The project was launched by the Advocate’s Office in 2012 to provide a platform for Black youth from across Ontario’s care systems to speak about their lived experiences, understand their rights and advocate for changes that will lead to better outcomes in their lives.

About HairStory

HairStory Youth PANEL

HairStory began with a youth panel that brought together Black youth from across Ontario with experiences in different care systems. They spoke to policy makers, community organizations, and community leaders about their experiences and recommendations. The youth were selected via a submission process that asked each young person to communicate their experiences and/or ideas for change.

Following the youth panel, HairStory engaged young people alone in discussions about their experiences and recommendations for change. We called this the HairStory Dialogue Sessions.

HairStory Dialogue Sessions

Over a span of 3 months, our team traveled across Ontario to speak with Black youth from various care systems including: group homes, children’s mental health programs, youth shelters, and youth justice facilities.

We spoke with 100+ Black youth on their own so that adults would not influence the conversation. In this safe environment, young people shared their experiences and their recommendations for change.

The dialogue sessions were extremely valuable. They provided us with themes for us to address moving forward. These themes include: identity, racism, labels, stigmas, family/parenting, mental health, immigration, resources, programming /treatment, and causes of over-representation of Black youth in the system.