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Meet Catrina – Indigenous RISE Housing Worker

Posted on August 1, 2023 in YES Stories, Current News

At YES, we’re so proud of our incredible staff team. Here we tell you about Indigenous RISE Youth Housing Worker, Catrina Mitchell, the first graduate of the Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound Program through the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre.

Catrina started working as a Housing Worker with the Indigenous RISE Youth Housing Program at YES last year. Indigenous RISE provides supported housing to Indigenous youth who would otherwise be homeless.

Indigenous RISE

In her role, Catrina helps youth find safety and stability through housing and support, and as well connect with their Indigenous roots. She provides support to youth according to the 7 Grandfather teachings, and makes sure young people are connected to the appropriate Indigenous community services. 

Catrina is familiar with the journey of reconnecting with one’s own Indigenous culture. Her Dad is from the Dene Tha’ First Nation in Northern Alberta. When she moved to Peterborough with her mom and sister at 5 years old, she found it became increasingly difficult to connect with the Indigenous part of herself.

“When I was younger, it was really hard to deal with, like, I couldn’t go to a powwow without crying.”

A journey home

But after her father passed away out west, Catrina and her sister went on a journey to take her father’s ashes back to their home community. Along the way she got to know more about her father’s life in his final years, and re-connected with her Indigenous family. She was rediscovering her Indigenous self. This gave her special insight into how ensure that cultural connection is a part of how she supports youth in the Indigenous RISE Program.

Supporting youth in all the ways

On top of cultural connection, Catrina also acts as a confidant and support person to young people who would otherwise often be entirely on their own. She connects with youth to help them get groceries, clean up their space, listen about what’s bothering them, and dream about the future. She helps them get ready to move into a stable adulthood on their own.

Catrina believes that a big part of supporting a young person into stability is helping them get to know who they are.

“Like knowing who you are; knowing you’re worthy. And knowing that you do have something to offer.”

Continuing a legacy

Catrina’s dad was a skilled carver well known in his Dene Tha’ First Nation community, but never passed this skill on to his daughters. Catrina knows that this and other life circumstances experienced by her dad had to do with the trauma he experienced in residential school. 

But Catrina keeps his carving pieces in her home and wants to continue her own journey of reconnecting with her roots, by exploring carving herself. A way to connect with her Indigenous family, and ultimately herself.

Help Peterborough keep the Indigenous RISE Program YES runs the Indigenous RISE Program entirely on dollars donated by community members like you. Please help us ensure this program continues by donating to YES today.