Who is Eva?

Eva Smith (1923-1993), a Jamaican immigrant, activist, and Black community leader, brought attention to the often-hidden issue of youth homelessness. Eva demonstrated tenacity and perseverance in highlighting the extent of the problem to decision-makers and rallying supporters to take action. Eva’s advocacy underscored the fact that adult shelters were ill-equipped to provide the specialized support that young people needed to avoid chronic homelessness.

“Eva touched the lives of many, and her single-minded focus on giving of one’s self to help others continues to echo in our hearts as we hear her name,” – Mavis E. Burke

Continuing the Legacy

Although Eva passed away in 1993, her indomitable spirit continued to inspire our organization. In 1994, just one year after her passing, Eva’s Place, our first physical shelter for young people, opened. After that, Eva’s Phoenix launched to provide youth with transitional housing and the skills they need to find and maintain housing and employment in the long run. In 2001, our organization’s name changed from the North York Emergency Home for Youth to Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth in honour of our visionary founder.

Eva Smith believed in young people.

“By losing them, we were also losing our strength and future. That view was truly Eva’s belief.” – My Name is Eva. You can help young people experiencing homelessness start the journey toward brighter futures.

Impact and Services Today

Today, Eva’s serves hundreds of young people every year, providing a holistic combination of safe shelter and housing, counselling, training, and life skills programs.

Eva Smith’s legacy embodies the values of compassion, perseverance, and advocacy. Her dedication to supporting Toronto’s youth remains at the heart of Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth today. Through her vision and commitment, she has left an enduring mark on our organization and the lives of countless young people.

Older, Stronger, Wiser Film

This film, produced by the NFB’s iconic Studio D, features Eva Smith (at 20:10) and other Black women talking about their lives in Canada between the 1920s and 1950s.