Practicum Update: Week 13

This coming week is a BIG week in my practicum experience.  It is the week that our practicum comes to it’s conclusion.

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Over the past week Jenn and I have been in email communication with Greg Chan concerning the final product of the practicum.  He has given us a list of considerations and suggestions for change.  Jenn and I have read this over and look forward to implementing and fine tuning the site this week.

We have run into an issue with giving a face (or faces) to the SJC page.  Mike has asked that we do not feature those behind the cause, but rather keep the focus on those who are being helped.  Social justice is for everyone.  Jenn and I did not want to exploit or jeopardize the privacy of those in need; therefore, instead of putting pictures of people in need we decided to feature images of our region.  The downside to this is the site could be seen as less personal.  So over the coming week (and during class this afternoon) we will seek to solve this issue.

We also will meet with Mike Ma to discuss his impression of the site and different ways for us to improve the overall appearance and function of the site.

A big part of our practicum (which also serves as our final exam) will be the DH showcase.  The showcase will occur Wednesday August 3rd, 2016 from 10:00am- 1:00pm.  Jenn and I will present our final product to those in attendance.  We plan to walk the guests through each tab of the site and to explain the process we took in creating the site.  Along with presenting the site itself, we will share the overall experience we have had within our practicum placement.

Jenn and I feel very fortunate to work with Mike and his team of people!  We are blown away at the opportunities we have had to visit different events and social justice organizations.  Walking into English 4300 I thought I would be taking my writing beyond the scope of the classroom.  I expected to be responsible for writing content for organizations.  I did not expect to use technology to create avenues to present information.  My perception of English 4300 was wrong.  The scope of work was much broader than I had thought.  In English 4300 I was given the opportunity to learn how to create a website, to talk to members of the community and learn about the many aspects of social justice and harm reduction.

I look forward to bringing this website to the finish line!

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Practicum Update: Week 12

This week Jenn and I are focusing on polishing the website.  We have gone over each section and looked for ways to bring cohesion.  Our main goal remains to accessibility for all guests.

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We have also gone over the video interviews that are featured on the site and have made a list of missing interviews.  We hope to get these done over the coming week.

In preparation for the upcoming DH Showcase we have began reflecting on our practicum experience  over the past 4 months.  Learning to navigate and work with Squarespace has been a learning curve for both of us, but we both feel that the experience was beneficial!

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Apart from the final product aspect of the practicum we both agree that the face-to-face opportunities have been extremely valuable and impactful!  At the start of our practicum we could not have imagined how meaningful the work we would do would be.  We had the opportunity to speak to members of the community and tour sites of harm reduction and outreach.  Our eyes were opened to the world of non-profit organization and the factors that contribute to caring for those in need.

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Drug War Survivors Workshop
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Wish Centre Tour
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Wish Centre Tour
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Wish Centre Learning Room
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Union Gospel Mission Site Visit 

It is my hope that the encounters with non-profit social justice organizations in our community will continue long after our practicum concludes!  My eyes have been opened and this is truly just the start of a long journey of advocacy and care!

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Practicum Update and In-Class Reflection: Week 11

This week my Practicum Update and In-Class Reflection are one and the same.  According the course syllabus todays class was dedicated to working on the various practicums in preparation for the DH Showcase, which is fast approaching.

Both Jenn and I have been volunteering at a community event in Langley all week.  Since we are the only two people assigned to our group we decided the best use of our time (and the best way to avoid traffic and driving) was to set up camp in a coffee shop and put some quality time into the set up of the Social Justice Centre website.

We spent 3.5 hours working in Mc Burnie’s Coffee house in Langley and our time there was very productive!!  After some technical difficulties and lost work, we were able to get a great rough construction of the whole site done.  **Lesson learned: don’t have two computers working on the same tab on Squarespace at the same time because the site won’t register both changes at once.**

We look forward to showing Mike Ma our work and to putting the finishing touches on it over the next two weeks!

Today was an exciting day for both Jenn and I.  We were able to see the work of the past few months start to take shape in the form of a finished product.  The new SJC webpage is going to be simple, eye-catching, professional and accessible.  One of our main goals in the construction of this site is accessibility.  We want the site to be easily understood by various guests and to also to be a functional tool for the SJC team after Jenn and I finish our semester.  Each section can be easily edited by team members.  There is lots of room for change and expansion in every section.

We have the site systematically categorized.  There will be tabs for the following:

  1. Local Organizations 
  2. Key Players 
  3. Past Involvement and Projects 
  4. Contact Information 

Under Local Organizations we have a brief description of various social justice based groups and have embedded links to key websites.

Under Key Players we have embedded videos we filmed featuring various community members who take part in social justice.  Each individual speaks on a different area of social justice that is of interest to them.

Under Past Involvement and Projects we have a list of past events and projects that the SJC has taken part of.  We also have a photo gallery with pictures and brochures from the various events.

For Contact Information we have the Kwantlen Polytechnic University address, which is also pinned on an embedded google maps.  As a key contact person we have listed Mike Ma’s email address.

Click here and here and here for a few sneak peaks of videos that will be featured on the SJC website!

The following is a sneak peak of various aspects of the website:

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A preview of the Home Page
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The cover page for featured local organization of social justice


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The set up of the Local Organizations page– each organization has a small write up and a picture
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A snippet of our featured past projects
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Cover page for Key Players
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First section of information shown under Key Players

Practicum Update: Week 10 – UGM Visit

Jenn and I visited the Union Gospel Mission (UGM).  


We felt a visit was necessary after a conversation we had with a representative of the WISH centre.  Both Jenn and I were shocked to hear that the UGM does not condone harm reduction methods.  They do not support or hand out condoms and clean needles.  Having learned the benefits of harm reduction we could not believe that any organization would reject its benefits (religious or not).  We did not intend to argue the benefits of harm reduction; we merely wanted to hear what UGM had to say and to learn about the AMAZING services they offer.

There are two sides to every story.

We half expected to hear that WISH was misinformed; however, they were not.  UGM does not offer harm reduction.

With reflection it is evident that harm reduction would not be beneficial in the outplaying of their vision, mission and goals.  The UGM and WISH can not be compared because they offer two very different services.  Their target demographic is different.  WISH and UGM function in different roles in society.  Both roles are necessary.

The Union Gospel Mission is meeting people where they are at and are providing resources for change.  Organizations like WISH keep people alive so that they are able to one day utilize resources like UGM.

As is found on their website, the mission statement of UGM is: Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 12.24.40 PM.png

As is found on their website, they offer the following services:

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More details about these services can be found here. 

To advocate for and support harm reduction would be spreading themselves to thin.  They cannot be all things to all people.

While at the site we were blown away by the care and support shown by each volunteer and employee!  They genuinely care for everyone who walks through their doors.

There is thought and reason for everything they do.  For instance, recently they decided to switch their main meal from dinner to breakfast.  The reason for this is the potential the morning brings compared to the potential the night brings.  They found that dinner meals enabled people to face the night with the full stomach (which the local police argued increased crime).  Breakfast meals enable volunteers to encourage and point people to supports during the day.  When an individual is hungry they are not able to effectively think through the possibility of change.

Recently the centre started construction in their basement.  They will have a room where local organizations and supports can set up tables and information.  Staff can then direct people (who request it) to this room to speak with representatives about options.

In visiting the UGM I was spurred on to consider the possibility of taking some youth kids I work with down to volunteer.  The UGM does not simply look for people to come give of their time.  They seek to educate their volunteers on the facts of poverty and homelessness.  Therefore, volunteering is not only beneficial for the organization – it is extremely beneficial to the volunteer.


Over the past few weeks Jenn and I have been compiling information on various social justice organizations in the lower mainland.

The following is the information we found on a few key organizations:

Vulnerable Girls and Women Working Group

The Vulnerable Girls and Women Working Group (VGWWG) of Surrey, BC is a research based multi-organization based community that functions to bring awareness to the needs of Surrey’s most at-risk females.

VGWWG was founded in 2013 and takes a proactive approach to helping the women of Surrey.  They partner with Elizabeth Fry Society, Options Community Resources Society, Pacific Community Resources Society, Servants Anonymous Society, Atira Women’s Resource Centre, YWCA, Surrey Women’s Centre, Fraser Health, BC Housing and the City of Surrey.

The project is funded by the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society.

The project’s findings were based on information provided from 50 women and youth and 12 service providers and data was collected between 2014-2015.

The final report (“In Their Own Words”) is available on the VGWWG website


The Union Gospel Mission

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The Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is a faith based organization that is devoted to “Demonstrating the love of Christ [and] is determined to transform communities by overcoming poverty, homelessness, and addiction – one life at time” (UGM)

Union Gospel Mission has multiple resources:

  1. Gateway: a program that targets individuals in the midst of addiction and struggle. Gateway offers a safe place to sleep and daily meetings with UGM staff where attainable goals are set.
  2. Meals: UGM offers hot meals 365 days a year.  Meals provide nourishment, community and open up the door for conversation about recovery.
  3. Cornerstone: The goal of cornerstone is to transform lives through a range of supports and services. They host movie night, chapel and games nights.  They also give out warm jackets and hot coffee.  Cornerstone provides an opportunity to build relationships.
  4. Mobile Mission: The rescue vehicle of UGM serves people where they are at and provides warm clothing and nourishment.
  5. Children’s Outreach: UGM has a team of people that serve the women and children of the region. They provide space to play, learn and grow.  They have an afterschool program, summer camp and offer multiple supports to families in need.
  6. Shelter and Housing: UGM connects individuals with housing options and practical supports to assist individuals in need.
  7. Recovery: The UGM offers multiple supports in addiction recovery. They have housing, employment services, counselling and workshops.


Elizabeth Fry Society

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 EFry of Greater Vancouver works to provide support to society’s most vulnerable.  They have more than 24 programs of advocacy.

“At Efry, [they] believe every life has value.  All people are entitled to dignity and respect.  And everyone has a right to belong.  For over 70 years that has been [their] legacy. And [their] promise” (EFry)

Support programs target:

  1. At risk women
  2. At risk children and families
  3. Women facing the Justice system
  4. Children and families facing the justice system
  5. Women seeking recovery and transition
  6. Children and families seeking recovery and transition


Surrey Women’s Society

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“Surrey Women’s Centre offers a wide range of Crisis, Court and Counselling services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and other forms of family violence” (SWC)

Services include:

  1. The Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team (SMART): a 24-hour crisis support resource. The SMART team partners with Surrey Memorial Hospital and offers over the phone and face to face support for women who have experienced sexual violence.  They support women to find safe shelter, hospital treatment and access to police reporting.  Women seeking help can call 604-583-1294.
  2. Crisis Service: SWC conducts risk assessments and aid women in finding support. Women can contact the SWC for bad-date reporting and police accompaniment support.
  3. Court Services: SWC offers women support in navigating the legal system. They help victims to know and understand their rights.
  4. Counseling: Group and individual counseling is available through SWC.
  5. Supports: Women can contact SWC for clothing, food and shelter.


Living in Community

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“Living in Community (LIC) is an innovative community initiative that works to find solutions to the impact of sex work and youth sexual exploitation on communities and to reduce the harms and isolation that sex workers experience.” (LIC)

LIC works to foster collaboration between various organization in the Greater Vancouver region.

They offer support in:

  1. Training
  2. Civil Engagement

Warm Zone

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“The Warm Zone is a drop in facility for street engaged women. There women will find a full bathroom, laundry facilities, lockers, clothing and personal care items, internet, telephone (including long distance), a kitchen stocked with drinks and snacks, a hot meal each Monday and Wednesday from 4:30 – 6:30pm, support workers and counsellors, access to medical and legal services, a monthly HIV clinic, a foot care clinic, pre-employment readiness support, advocacy, pregnancy support and help with obtaining emergency and stable housing. The Warm Zone also helps women who are living and working on the streets develop personal safety plans” (Warm Zone)

The Warm Zone offers:

1.      Full Bathroom

2.     Laundry

3.     Lockers

4.     Clothing

5.     Personal Care Items

6.     Internet/Phone

7.     Food (including hot meals)

8.     Counselling

9.     Access to medical and legal service

10.  Monthly HIV Clinic

11.  Pre-employment

12.  Advocacy

13.  Pregnancy Support

14.  Safety Plans


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“ANKORS’ mission is to respond to the evolving needs of those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other blood borne pathogens; and to foster healthy, informed communities” (ANKORS)

ANKORS provides:

  1. Support and Advocacy
  2. Harm Reduction/Prevention/Education
  3. Person Centered Practice
  4. Partnership


Pregnancy Options Centre

“The Pregnancy Options Centre (formally Crisis Pregnancy Centre of Surrey) has been serving the communities of Surrey, Langley and Delta since 1985. We offer a compassionate listening ear and information to women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy or who have had an abortion. We also assist families with adoption and parenting” (POC) 


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Canada’s only safe injection site, INSITE is a supervised and safe place for drug users to inject illicit drugs.

“Insite operates on a harm-reduction model, which means it strives to decrease the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug use without requiring abstinence from drug use” (Vancouver Coastal Health) 

Night Shift

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Night Shift is a faith based organization that strives to connect people within the community.  They provide hot meals and community supports 365 days a year.

Each night between 7-8pm they hand out hot meals, clothing, blankets and care packages. The organization seeks to create relationships within the community.

They offer:

  1. Counselling support
  2. Education
  3. Art-Classes
  4. Support Groups
  5. Transitional Housing

Beneath the Sky 

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“Beneath One Sky is a non-profit student group based in Surrey and Vancouver, Canada, dedicated to the awareness of poverty locally and globally. Its members reach out to the underprivileged through fundraising and volunteer efforts. We welcome collaborations with other organizations and volunteers, hoping to expand our cause worldwide. We were formally known as Building For GK, as well as Building For Hope, and Building Homes For the Poor.” (BOS) 


United Way

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The United Way works both locally and Globally to “create opportunities for better life for everyone in our communities” (United Way)

They focus on:

  1. Poverty
  2. Health
  3. Children Advocacy


Drug War Survivors 

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is a group of users and former users who work to improve the lives of people who use illicit drugs through user-based peer support and education” (Drug War Survivors)





Practicum Update: Week 8- WISH Centre Visit

On Friday June 17, 2016 Jenn Wiens and I joined Mike Ma at WISH Drop-in Centre Society in Vancouver BC.  According to their website, “The mission of WISH is to improve the health, safety and well-being of women who are involved in Vancouver’s street-based sex trade.”

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Beautiful Art Work on the Drop-In Centre Wall

The WISH centre will be a featured resource on the Social Justice Centre (SJC) website, which is well under way!  Well at the centre we were able to video interview a staff member and are excited to share this interview on the SJC website.

Part of the purpose of this visit was to gather information on the site and collaborate with the WISH team in the discussion of replicating a similar resource in the Surrey area.  Recently surrey has been approved for a MAP van, which will function under the same guidelines as the Vancouver MAP van.

Jenn and I were both blown away at the amount of support that is offered to women through the centre and are excited for the potential of a similar resource in Surrey!


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Jenn and I with Sandra (a key player at WISH)

The Centre offers multiple supports:   

MAP Van: 

We were able to take a tour of the MAP van.  The MAP van runs 365 days a year and provides services to women working on the street between the hours of 10:30pm and 6:00am.  The van has a route that they follow, but women are also welcome to phone and request assistance at any time throughout the night.  The map van works to provide harm reduction supports to women.  They have condoms, clean needles, coffee, juice, sheets for reporting bad dates and function as a safe place for respite.  Furthermore, they are able to direct women to health care, shelters and other supports.

The van is staffed by 3 women.  Two women serve women from the front of the van and one (the peer support) stays in the back and is there to talk with women when they request respite within the van.  Many women who work on the van also have a history within the sex industry and therefore are able to more effectively connect with the women they are serving.

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The Map Van

According to the WISH website, the van connects with nearly 1400 women a month!

Those requiring assistance are asked to call 604-720-5686

Those seeking further information may call the centre office at 604-669-9474

Drop-In Program: 

The WISH centre also runs a drop in program from 6pm-12pm seven days a week.

The centre is a safe and non-judgemental space that offers support to women with current or former involvement in the sex trade (over the age of 18) at any stage in their journey.

The drop in centre provides hot meals, showers, clothing, personal care supplies, nursing, referrals and safety warnings.  The staff at the centre are all caring, supportive and work to create connections and foster an environment of acceptance.  They have a clothing store and a make-up counter (that are both open when volunteer support is available).

The Kitchen

The centre is set up in a way that ensures the safety of both staff and clients.  There is a camera at the door and women are instructed to look into the camera and say their name upon entering.  There are strict rules surrounding drugs — as women are not allowed to do drugs on site.  They do however offer bins for safe needle disposal.

Women with current or former involvement in the sex trade who are seeking assistance at WISH Drop-In centre are asked to call 604-681-9244 (during open hours) or 604-669-9474 (outside open hours)

The WISH Clinic: 

While at the centre we were able to visit the WISH clinic.  The clinic is a small room to the side of the Drop-In centre.  Stigma that surrounds sex trade work often creates barriers for receiving proper health care and support.  The clinic is staffed once a week by Nurse Practitioners from BC Women’s Hospital.

The WISH Learning Centre: 

During our visit we also visited the WISH Learning centre, which is run in partnership with Capilano University.  Instructors offer support in literacy, communication and computer skills.

Together with the instructors and the women who visit the centre a book called Literacy for Women on the Street was produced.  A curriculum called Dream Soup and Life Stew was also produced.

The centre publishes a monthly newsletter that features poems, art work and event updates.

Participants are welcome to join an annual trip to the Sunshine Coast.

The Learning Centre

Women are welcome to borrow books and magazines.  The centre is always welcoming donations!!

Peer Safety Patrol:

The centre not only provides support, they also encourage participant involvement and self and peer advocacy.

According to the WISH website, “the Peer Safety Patrol program trains, employs and supports women from the WISH community to provide security and street outreach for the WISH Drop-In Centre.”

The Peer Safety Patrol seeks to insure that the surrounding neighbourhood is safe, clean and free from illicit activity.  When employed as a Peer Safety Patrol member women are trained (over the course of 6 weeks), paid and given work experience.  Peer Safety Patrol workers provide harm reduction services to women in the surrounding areas.

The centre gives a voice to all of it’s members.  Women are invited to a forum once a month, which is put on through the Women’s Advisory Group (WAG).  This forum is a designated time when all participants opinions are voiced and heard.

The back patio where the majority of women enter the centre

I was beyond impressed and inspired by the work done at the WISH centre!!  They honour the dignity of all women who walk through their doors.  The staff we encountered all displayed genuine care and passion for the work they do– they are true heroes!

Practicum Update: Week 7- Surrey Drug War Survivors Workshop

On Monday June 13, 2016 I attended the Surrey Drug War Survivors workshop called Hepatitis C: Prevention and Treatment.


The workshop was held at Kwantlen Polytechnic University between 11:00am and 5:00pm.  Rides and bus passes were available for anyone who wished to attend.  There was lunch, stipend and travel costs provided.

According the the BC Centre for Disease Control there are over 2000 people in BC diagnosed with Hepatitis C every year.  At the workshop attendees were offered multiple resources for harm reduction.




During the afternoon Mike Ma and I were able to video interview various individuals and are excited to feature these videos on the new Social Justice Centre (SJC) website.

Rob Morgan told us what harm reduction means to him
We learned about harm reduction and public health
Alex works with ANKORS in Nelson and works with people who live with HIV or HepC and shared about the services that his organization provides


Erika Thompson works with a program called the Warm Zone and shared with us about stigma and criminalization within drug users


John Scolsh shared about the Eastside Elicit Drinkers Association for Education
Brittany Graham told us what harm reduction and non-beverage drinking means to her.  She also works with the Eastside Elicit Drinkers Association for Education
Kevin shared about VANDU– a Vancouver based harm reduction organization

During the afternoon I was able to sit in on a talk by the Pacific Hepatitis C Network.  I learned about the stigma that woman who have fallen into addiction, homelessness and poverty face.  They are often seen as ultra-deviant as their way of living is in direct opposition to the female role as caregiver.



I look forward to sharing these videos on the new Social Justice Centre website, which is well underway right now!  Both Jenn and I have been working to familiarize ourselves with Squarespace and are very happy with the template we have chosen to work with for the website!