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Burrard St youth centre opens

With queer kids at a greater risk of hitting the streets, the lesbian director of street youth programs at Directions says she remains committed to making Vancouver’s new 24-hour youth drop-in centre queer-inclusive.

“It’s an ethic of caring,” says Renata Aebi.

Directions held its opening ceremony Nov 3, though due to construction delays, its doors won’t officially open to youth until Nov 14.

Run by Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Directions amalgamates youth services offered until now by Dusk to Dawn and Street Youth Services. In addition to offering essentials like food, laundry, showers, medical and mental health treatment, during daytime hours the new centre will offer addictions counsellors, housing workers, education and job skills training to youth committed to staying clean and sober.

Aebi says West End queers’ “sense of community” has resulted in strong support for the centre. “Many of us know what it’s like to be oppressed,” she says.

Despite some early opposition to the centre, “people have done a 180,” she adds.

Directions is located at 1134 Burrard St, across the street from St Paul’s Hospital.