Photo: Friends of Ruby
Based in Toronto, Friends of Ruby is a charity that supports queer youth in need.
The organization provides free counselling, housing, and social services for those aged 16 to 29 who identify as two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or gender non-conforming.
Since opening in 2014, the foundation has supported over 1,000 youth, with 15 to 25 new people registering for their services every month. Additionally, in 2022 Friends of Ruby provided over 1,500 counselling sessions where youth are able to learn coping skills and discuss topics related to their gender and sexuality, both in individual and group settings.
“Friends of Ruby is a unique organization and beautiful place to be,” explained Alban Joxhe, Director of Transitional Housing at Friends of Ruby.
“[We] provide help to 2SLGBTQ+ youth that are either living in precarious living conditions or struggling with homelessness.”
“Our vision is a world where every queer youth or member of community feels validated, empowered, and able to live a beautiful life,” Joxhe shared.
“What we do at Friends of Ruby is provide opportunities for youth that are either dealing with rejection, family acceptance, or a lot of other barriers that society and the world put in front of them.”
He told The Brandon Gonez Show that the work is meaningful and rewarding, but can also be extremely difficult. Despite this, Joxhe says that it’s important to continue to do this work.
“2SLGBTQ+ youth are overwhelmingly represented in the homelessness numbers.”
Published in 2016, The National Youth Homelessness Survey gathered information from 1,103 Canadian youth experiencing homelessness. The survey revealed that 29.5 per cent of participants identified as LGBTQ2S, with 1.8 per cent identifying as transgender, 1.8 per cent identifying as two-spirit, and 2.5 per cent identifying as non-binary.
Joxhe explained that while these statistics are shocking, they speak to the need for the services provided by Friends of Ruby, which was founded by Egale Canada in 2014.
“Egale Canada decided to create a safe space for 2SLGBTQ+ youth to thrive and be given the opportunity to live a successful independent life like everybody else.”
Joxhe explained that the drop-in centre was the first pillar of Friends of Ruby. Then in 2018, Friends of Ruby became an independent charity, before opening their house in 2020. He also shared the different services provided by Friends of Ruby.
Joxhe explained that Friends of Ruby often works with youth who struggle with rejection from society, as well as friends and family. “[Friends of Ruby] provides a wrap-around service package, constantly supporting them in their mental health, life skills like financial literacy, cooking, and resume building, employment, education, and any other needs they have,” the director explained, adding that some of the youth they work with come from other countries and need additional services, which Friends of Ruby can support.
“So it is like a holistic approach, meeting them at their journey and mainly focused on their well-being, with youth center programs for making this journey as smooth and rewarding as possible.”
Support from Friends at TD
So how do organizations like Friends of Ruby manage to go above and beyond to serve these vulnerable communities? With help from supporters like TD.
“Our friends at TD are present from the very first month that youth move into the house with their financial literacy program.”
Joxhe explained that the support from TD doesn’t stop there.
“Funding is crucial. So, TD has been a huge funding supporter of Friends of Ruby from the beginning, for all the areas of service that we provide, to help those services to be there and be sustainable,” he explained.
“But above all, being an ally and showing that you’re not alone, you belong. If you do better, we do better. So that’s the most precious message that we have received from a huge supporter and a great friend like TD.”
“To have that kind of support for young people that have been struggling with so many areas in their life, it means a lot. We all know how important it is to provide those services.”
Let’s leave some love for Friends of Ruby in the comments.