HairStory: Rooted – A Firm Foundation for the Future of Black Youth in Ontario’s Systems of Care


HairStory: Rooted – A Firm Foundation for the Future of Black Youth in Ontario’s Systems of Care

4 years ago 4 years ago Published by
This report was published by the Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth.


The young people whose voices are reflected in this report are reaching out to government, stakeholders, and community service organizations and asking for a working partnership, one they believe will promote more positive life outcomes for Black children and youth. They offer recommendations to improve Ontario’s systems of care and make services more relevant and effective for Black youth in all their diversity.

They speak with passion and courage. Issues discussed in this report may give rise to strong feelings and emotions. Service providers and stakeholders may feel unfairly criticized. Representatives of government may believe the supports and services these young people so desperately seek are already available. However, that is not the intention of this call to action. Anchored in their lived experience is a plain truth: Black youth experience harm in Ontario’s systems of care and the services they receive often magnify the already difficult circumstances of their lives. What they say is a reflection of their daily experiences. They are hurting and want collective action to meet their needs and address their concerns.

Many of the issues they raise are well documented in the academic literature and government-sponsored studies. They feel frustration about the slow pace of change and anger towards a system they believe does not understand the urgency of responding to their needs. Beyond their often strong words they also remain hopeful that needed change will happen and that those entrusted with their care will feel the sincerity of their commitment to work in partnership to create change.

Young people want to see more accountability in the system. They want service providers to know about and acknowledge the discomfort, fear, and alienation they feel as they struggle with bureaucratic practices they believe are biased and systems of care that do not serve them well.

They speak plainly about the things they feel are wrong with the system and express gratitude for the programs and services that do support and assist Black children and youth in care. They understand that service providers and government policy makers are well intentioned but do not want government or service providers to create needed change on their own. They are asking for a seat at the table and to work together with common purpose.

Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth. (2019). HairStory: Rooted – A Firm Foundation for the Future of Black Youth in Ontario’s Systems of Care. Toronto, ON: Author. Retrieved from

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