CAUSE: Homeless Youth

Some of the statistics regarding street youth may surprise you, but a lot of it won’t. Did you know that 70% of the kids who come into Covenant House Vancouver have witnessed family violence? Or that 1 in 3 youth must engage in “survival sex”? How about this: 32% of them have attempted suicide.

To define “street kid” there is this, offered by Youth homelessness refers to young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who are living independently of parents and/or caregivers, and importantly, lack many of the social supports deemed necessary for the transition from childhood to adulthood. In such circumstances, they do not have a stable or consistent residence or source of income, nor do they necessarily have adequate access to the support networks necessary to foster a safe and nurturing transition into the responsibilities of adulthood.

Now that you have clear idea as to what defines the problem, it seems that the most common question surrounding the homelessness of young people is “why?” The Washington State Department of Commerce mentions in their 2016 annual report that, “Many have run from dysfunctional and sometimes violent homes, been kicked out for their gender identity or sexual orientation, or separated from their family due to poverty, drug and alcohol addiction, or mental health issues.”

Places like Covenant House take in homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24 and tend to their medical needs, hunger, and offer not only a safe place to sleep, but compassion and support.

Like previously mentioned, homeless and sexual abuse often go hand in hand. Below, please find an infographic to help better understand how the two are related.

Click to enlarge // Credit to the National Sexual Violence Resource Centre

Sources: Covenant House Vancouver,, Washington State Department of Commerce

By Emily, on August 28th, 2017, under Causes // Comments Off on CAUSE: Homeless Youth

CAUSE: Save the Manatees!

Click the photo above to adopt a manatee // Photo: Cora Berchem,

The good news is, in 2016, manatees were knocked off the endangered species list and their status changed to “threatened”. That’s a step, but not ideal. The primary causes of their endangerment is due to entanglement in fishing gear, boat collisions, harassment from humans, red tide, and most of all, loss of habitat.

The greatest long-term threat to manatees involves the loss of warm-water habitat that manatees need to survive. At temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the stress of the cold can become dangerous, or even fatal. Over the past 10 years, Florida’s manatees have had higher-than-usual numbers of deaths from cold stress. The winter of 2010 saw a total of 766 manatees killed, nearly 300 of them by an extended period of very cold weather.

According to Wikipedia, these creatures spend most of their time eating, sleeping, and traveling — which are the three things that I like to do! Maybe I was a manatee in a past life.

Here are some (happy!) fun facts:

– Florida celebrates Manatee Awareness Month during November!
– A long, long time ago sailors apparently thought these cuties were mermaids from afar.
– Florida has had a law to protect them since 1893.
– If you live in Florida, you can call Call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) to report an injured manatee.

How can you help?

– Collier County Residents: Give Input on Manatee Protection Rule!
– Sign a petition urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make Three Sisters Springs a true winter sanctuary for manatees.
– Demand Clean Water For Wildlife & People
– Sign The Now Or Neverglades Declaration
– Florida Residents: Help Manatees By Signing A Petition to Restore the Ocklawaha River at
– Urge Governor Scott To Lead The Way In Safeguarding Florida’s Aquatic Environment
– Adopt-a-Manatee at

Sources:,, The Winter Dolphin Chronicles

By Emily, on May 11th, 2017, under Causes // Comments Off on CAUSE: Save the Manatees!

CAUSE: Save B.C. Wolves

Click the photo above to visit Pacific Wild’s campaign // Photo by Ian McAllister

This is a controversial issue.

Imagine if we started to kill off masses of humans because there were “just too many”. Some may argue that it’s not fair to equate wolves, or any other creature for that matter, to a human life — but I believe that a massacre of any kind is uncalled for.

Pacific Wild is taking the necessary steps to prevent one of B.C’s iconic animals from being treated by our provincial government as “disposable”.

The B.C. Wolf Management Plan is in desperate need of an overhaul, and the wolf cull program is arguably its most ecologically, economically, and ethically offensive element. Our current goal is to stop the wolf cull from happening again this winter and to resist on-going efforts to escalate the persecution of wolves across the province. We are doing everything in our power to accomplish this — working with groups to document the helicopter kill from the field, engaging mainstream media, supporting public outreach and education online and face-to-face, as well as legal and policy research. Together we can stop this kill program and get wolves the protection and respect they deserve as top predators.

Celebrities have also spoken out about the cull, including Miley Cyrus, who even brought Pacific Wild executive director, Ian McAllister, out on stage at a Vancouver concert.

In January 2017, the B.C. government admitted that the wolf cull is inhumane, but that they will continue to proceed, and even expand, regardless:

There are no humane methods to directly reduce wolf numbers, but aerial removal is the only method of killing enough wolves (and entire packs) to reduce wolf densities with no risk of by-catch.

One of the reasons for this activity is, ironically enough, to help save another species: the caribou. Though I wholeheartedly agree that this too is an important issue, I also believe that if we worked hard enough, we could find a more humane solution than the one current. Pacific Wild stated in a press release that, “Aerial gunning fails to comply with ethical guidelines set by the Canadian Council on Animal Care, as it is not considered an acceptable form of euthanasia. The BC government also accepts strangling snares as a killing method in this and other management plans. Research shows that many wolves killed by aerial gunning and neck snaring die a slow and excruciatingly painful death.”

Sources: Pacific Wild

By Emily, on April 27th, 2017, under Causes // Comments Off on CAUSE: Save B.C. Wolves

CAUSE: Putting an End to Child Soldiers

Click the photo above to learn more about child soldiers

A few years ago, I had the honour of meeting an incredible man by the name of Roméo Dallaire while volunteering at We Day. I learned a lot from his speech, and his passion for ending the use of child soldiers has greatly affected me. His organization, Child Soldiers Initiative, is “progressively ending the use of child soldiers through a security sector approach, combining world-class research, high-level advocacy, and prevention-focused training.” They do this through research, training, and advocacy. The United Nations says that the countries which include children in conflict are as follows: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Colombia, Nigeria, and the Philippines.

Below, thanks to another incredible organization, Child Soldiers International, are some of the many things that these children are forced into or made to do:

Some child soldiers are used for fighting – to kill and commit other acts of violence. Others are used as cooks, porters, messengers, informants or spies, or in any other way their commanders want. Child soldiers are also used for sexual purposes.

How do more than one hundred thousand kids get caught up in this atrocious act? A lot of the children used in wars are abducted and forced into battle without consent. Others feel they “need” to volunteer or enlist to support their families. According to Child Soldiers International, refugee children are particularly vulnerable — especially when separated from their parents or guardians. Children are chosen over those 18 and over because they are easier to control and manipulate, and oftentimes, cannot fight back or protest. Some examples of organizations that choose to include them are the Taliban (Afghanistan), the “Islamic State” (Syria and Iraq), the Kachin Independence Army (Myanmar), and the Mai-Mai Nyatura (Dem. Republic of Congo).

Sources: Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Initiative

By Emily, on April 20th, 2017, under Causes // Comments Off on CAUSE: Putting an End to Child Soldiers

CAUSE: Shark Finning

Click the photo above to sign the pledge against shark finning

Sharks have a bad reputation, but they are an imperative part of the animal kingdom and marine ecosystems. I’m including a short video below from Discovery Channel’s Andy DeHart, where he explain the importance of sharks to not only the well-being of our oceans, but how it can affect humans as well.

So what is exactly is shark finning? Shark finning refers to the removal and delignening of shark fins while the remainder of the shark is discarded in the ocean. Sharks are tossed back to the ocean without their fins are often still alive; unable to swim effectively, they sink to the bottom of the ocean and die of suffocation or are eaten by other predators. You cannot deny that this is cruel and unnecessary way for any creature to die.

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year with fins from up to 73 million used for shark fin soup, primarily to supply the market in Mainland China. A pair of shark fins can sell for as much as US$700 per kg in Asia. Some shark populations have declined by up to 98% in the last 15 years and nearly one third of pelagic sharks species are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. – WildAid

How can you help?
– First and foremost, do not buy food containing shark fin.
– Tell your friends and relatives that they may be contributing to the irreversible decline of shark populations.
– Always opt for environmental and sustainable alternatives and substitutes.
– Contact your elected officials asking them what steps they are taking to end the unregulated trade in shark fins.
Sign the WildAid shark pledge, vowing to lend your voice to the 73 million sharks whose fins are used in shark fin soup every year.

Sources: WildAid, Discovery Channel, and Wikipedia.

By Emily, on April 13th, 2017, under Causes // Comments Off on CAUSE: Shark Finning