Berkha is a queer south asian that has come to consider the GTA home for the last 15 years. Most of their work has been focused on increasing services/programming for LGBTQ people, especially youth and people of colour, while creating spaces for building community.
Away from Youth Line, Berkha can be found working on community projects like a colour deep, the monthly QTBIPOC meetup in Mississauga or other short(er) term projects related to (queer, trans) BIPOC communities. Berkha is really excited by web/online technologies so is often trying to keep up with what’s new in social media or online tools, learn how to make websites or fake their way through a poster design.
Lauren (or Wren) is a queer, genderqueer child of Trinidadian immigrant parents. They grew up in Scarborough and still live in the east end of Toronto. Lauren spent many years in grad school studying Caribbean feminisms and the queer Trinidadian experience. They have also been involved with community organizations that work largely with youth, healthcare, media and the arts such as Shameless Magazine, Planned Parenthood Toronto, and most recently the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities. When Wren’s at home they like playing with their dog, watching romcoms or reality baking shows, and reading science fiction.
Hayley is a queer, two-spirit Anishinaabekwe with roots from the French River area, England and Germany, and currently lives along the Haldimand Tract in ‘Brantford.’ Most of her work has centered around sexual violence advocacy, and working with youth in a counselling and support role, always prioritizing healing as an act of resistance. She spends a lot of her time being critical of the Canadian colonial state, and dreaming of land reclamation and youth-led revolutions. She can also be found watching ridiculous TV shows, putting maple syrup on all foods, and finding ways to connect to her traditional territory.
Larae is a Black queer person, whose roots lie south of the border in Chicago. Larae loves to travel and most recently has found a home in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. Larae uses their background in social work to partner with youth in promoting racial justice, increasing access to programming for rural 2SLGBTQ+ folks and creating inclusive spaces for recreation and play. They are passionate about engaging youth in self-led advocacy and developing community-based approaches to bring about change. When Larae’s not working alongside youth, they love to play beside them! Larae loves being active, trying new activities that bring people together and is always willing to play any sport or game at least once.
Minna is a white queer person and has worked with her LGBTQ2S peers in different capacities for many years. Minna grew up in the deep woods of rural B.C. on unceded territories of Sinixt-Lakes people and now calls Tkaronto (Toronto) and the GTA home. Her professional skills have been developed through experiences in social work, higher ed/student services, and through caring for herself and for her communities. Minna loves working with other LGBTQ2S youth at Youth Line, and finding ways we can all support and be present for youth across Ontario. She also loves horses and plants.
Kelly is a queer, mixed-race Latina who grew up on unceded Coast Salish Territory in Vancouver. After seven years of organizing, working, and studying in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal), she moved to Tkaronto in late 2018. Kelly has done extensive organizing, facilitation, educational, and support work in the realms of social justice and anti-oppression, working mostly with 2SLGBTQ and otherwise marginalized youth. She loves spending time outdoors, taking part in community, and hanging out with her goofball cat.
Kenny is a queer woman who has recently transitioned from Jamaica to Canada. Before coming to Canada she had not worked closely with members of the LGBT community. She is passionate and dedicated to making whatever difference she possibly can and is learning to embrace her queerness everyday. Since she has been here she has volunteered with the 519 and with the city supporting 2SLGBTQ people. She has a degree in Social Work and loves to work with people gearing them toward holistic living, but she especially loves working with youth. In her down time she is very chill and is a home body. She considers herself to be an ambivert as she enjoys her own company whether to go out to see a movie or just staying home to binge watch Netflix series, all possible talent shows and crime documentaries but she is also a people’s person.
The Youth Line has three brilliant and talented shift supervisors. These folks listen to and support the volunteers who answer calls, texts, e-mails, and messages from Ontario’s youth. Their work is extremely valuable and appreciated. Without them, we couldn’t do what we do!
Youth Line has around 60 volunteers who range between 14-26 years of age. They go through an intensive 36-hour training program to be able to staff the lines. Our volunteers bring with them diverse experiences and knowledge of LGBT issues and much more These folks are really the heart and soul of our program, staffing the lines every Sunday-Friday, rain or shine. Volunteers bring so much to every call, but also to each other and to the organization. We wouldn’t be where we are without the amazing work of our volunteers. Thanks folks!
Adriana is a queer, Latinx and Asian person who is currently one of the Co-Chairs of the Youth Line Board. She is a self-described nerd who likes pop culture, research, politics, music, playing guitar and ukulele, singing, karaoke, dancing, and checking out queer dance parties. Prior to joining Youth Line, Adriana was president of LGBT Dance, a queer and trans dance club that taught classes in salsa, hip-hop and west coast swing. Adriana has a MSW in social policy from the University of Toronto and currently works at the Ontario Ministry of Housing as a Policy Advisor in the area of homelessness prevention.
Amy is a member of Youth Line’s Board of Directors and sits on the Policy and Finance Committees. She completed her B.A. in History and M.A. in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Gender, Feminist, & Women’s Studies at York University. She has also been involved in LGBTQ community-building work for the past few years, helping to organize social and support groups, an anti-racist LGBTQ book club, and an anti-gentrification queer zine project.
Khadijah Kanji is currently completing her Masters of Social Work at York University. She also works part time at a community centre, working mostly on anti-Islamophobia activism.
Colan joined the Board of Directors in 2015 and currently serves as the Treasurer of Youth Line. An incorrigible introvert, Colan loves Coldplay, hates being cold called, and occasionally experiences cold feet. Colan completed his B.A. at Western University and currently works as a Consultant at Deloitte.
Who is Adanyi? (ah-danny) Was a volleyball player Loves to socialize Lover of SVU, DC’s shows, Grey’s, Criminal minds, and saving hope Loved Rookie Blue and Lost Girl (gone too soon :’( ) Plays video games poorly, but loves it! Ori anyone? Can’t do the splits or a cartwheel Was a phone line volunteer for 4 years Was one of the first people to do a Youth line MSN chat Can roll her tongue and Is completely open to be contacted if ever someone has a question or wants to chat Adanyi17@hotmail.com
Kanaka Kulendran is a queer tamil person who has spent 20+ years in Toronto. She has 10+ years experience working with children and youth locally and internationally. Kanaka has spent a number of years working in the non-profit sector, doing front line work in Scarborough, Davenport-Perth and Regent Park. Most recently, she worked as a children and youth facilitator with The Stop Community Food Centre, an anti-poverty & food justice organization, where she developed and ran innovative youth leadership programs for 4 years. Currently she oversees all the exciting community projects that go on at The Stop Community Food Centre’s Green Barn. Kanaka has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science & a Bachelor of Education, both from York University. She has been volunteering with the board since 2016.
Sylvan is a transmasculine youth of color with a background in accounting. They are passionate about social equity and making a difference, especially towards supporting queer and trans migrants, whom often struggle to find resources. In their spare time, they like to take long walks in parks and browse through pug photos and videos. Sylvan is also fairly easy to be found around the 519, Sherbourne Health Centre, and Planned parenthood Toronto. If you see them strolling by, feel free to say hi and connect with them.
Shayla is a queer and nonbinary person with a commitment to social justice and a passion for visual arts. As a current student at U of T, in Sexual Diversity Studies and Religion, Shayla is particularly interested in doing research in the area of sex, disability and religion. When they aren’t working on their current research project, they can be found with their nose in a book and having imaginary conversations with their favourite fictional characters.
Juan Luis Garrido is a queer man living in Toronto. He works at the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada national office as the manager, brand marketing; he joined the MS Society as an employee 5 years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while he was in university. He spends his free time volunteering for progressive and intersectional causes or can usually be found watching a drag show. Moving through the world as a queer person of colour with an invisible disability, he endeavours to learn more about building up communities and allyship.
Jackie is a queer, cis, white femme who is super excited to be supporting Youth Line again. As a former phone line volunteer, she recently supported YL with Craftathon (YL’s annual fundraiser) for the last two years: first as a lead crafter and now as a co-chair of the Craftathon Planning Committee. She previously volunteered with the Rainbow Health Network and Bereaved Families of Ontario – Toronto. When not crafting or volunteering, Jackie spends her time working as a perinatal and paediatric social worker in a community hospital.
Yara Kodershah is an education researcher who is committed to the principles of social justice education. She holds a Masters of Education degree from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology from the University of Alberta. Yara’s work is focused on supporting, engaging, strengthening the immigrant- and refugee- sector to serve queer and trans newcomers, particularly those who identify as being part of BIPOC communities.
Donovan Taplin served for four years (2013-2017) as the youngest person elected to municipal government in Newfoundland and Labrador in his hometown of Bell Island. Concurrently, Donovan held advisory roles with the 12th Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador (2014-2015) and the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada (2016-2018). Donovan served as an ambassador with the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation, a delegate with the Young Diplomats of Canada for the Y7 Summit in Tokyo, Japan, and worked as a Project Coordinator at CivicAction. Most recently, Donovan was appointed Vice-Chair of the technical committee tasked by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Standards Association with developing a National Standard for the Psychological Heath and Safety of Post-Secondary Students.