As we commemorate 30 years of supporting youth experiencing homelessness, we continue to be guided by the powerful ethos of our founder, Eva Smith, a Jamaican immigrant and fearless Black community activist.  

She passed away in 1993 before she could witness the magnitude of her legacy. Still, her advocacy for Black youth is embedded in everything we do across Eva’s Place, Eva’s Satellite, Eva’s Phoenix, and YOUth Belong 

We remember the woman who gave us our name and our purpose as we provide shelter, transitional housing, and health and well-being programming to help young people move from crisis to stability, with the ultimate goal of independence.  

In her time as an educator, “Eva’s mission was to make sure that none of the children [at Georges Vanier Secondary School] fell through the cracks and that we, as a community, had a responsibility to help them. To nurture them. To provide openings for them. Her focus primarily was Black youth. That’s where she saw the need,”

– Kamala-Jean Gopie, former president of the Jamaican Canadian Association and retired teacher.

In 2024 and beyond, that’s where we see the need, too. We support all youth who come through our doors regardless of race or background, while offering culturally responsive and trauma-informed programs addressing the unique challenges and systemic barriers faced by Black youth experiencing homelessness.   

As we move into our renewed identity as a Black youth-focused organization, our wrap-around approach, harm reduction perspective, and innovative employment programs seek to meet the needs of the communities to which Eva so tirelessly devoted her life.  

“What hurt one of us, hurt all of us,” was how Eva expressed her calling. And now it’s our North Star. We are boldly stepping into a new era that honours our heritage and seeks to break down the barriers of anti-Black racism, poverty, and homelessness. We are actively building a future where all youth can thrive.