The CHEW Project’s vision is to provide frontline support, opportunities for health and wellness, and to help find hope for LGBTQ2S+ youth and young adults facing barriers like:
Mental health issues
Substance use issues
Sexual health issues
Sexual exploitation/sex work
CHEW’s team fosters resilience through no cost:
Short and long term counselling
Crisis and suicide intervention
Referrals to housing
Newcomer and refugee communities
Support and resources for youth and young adults engaged in survival sex or sex work
Events to develop empowerment and resilience
A physical, safe space for youth to get support and get off the street
Research and advocacy work
Simply put, we try and be there in whatever ways we can to help youth and young adults survive, heal, and find hope.
The CHEW Project started in 2014 with the purpose of providing sexual health education to queer youth and young adults facing barriers. It soon became clear that these youth and young adults had limited resources and little frontline support, especially around mental health, housing, substance use, and survival sex. In late 2015, the project evolved into an outreach project providing frontline support and services. We continued to grow, and by 2017, we created an Indigenous peer support position, which still flourishes, as well as a counselling team to provide long-term mental health supports. This year we are close to securing a new space for our outreach office, the OUTpost, which would provide a safe space for youth to sleep, eat, shower, do laundry, relax, and get off the street.
Our goal is to reduce homelessness, suicide, substance use, and mental health concerns by providing a safe space and services particular to the needs of LGBTQ2S+ youth and young adults.
Meet the CHEW staff and research team
Corey (Community Mental Health Worker/Project Coordinator, pronouns: he/him): Corey (Hawaiian name: Koli) is known as an underdog for queer youth . For 3 decades he has been striving to create hope, health, and happiness for youth facing barriers. He is starting a new adventure soon with his MSW in Clinical Social Work and is super stoked about it! He is a little outside the box and watches too much science fiction. His door is always open!
Rohan (Counsellor, pronouns: he/him): Rohan is a trans masc gender f*cked South Asian half unicorn, half boi, with a love for Mars (the planet not the candy bar), community building, advocacy & QTPOC mental health. Rohan has been playing violin for most of his life, and writes emotional lyrics when he's not too busy being a counsellor, hanging out with friends/chosen family, or wandering into an Edmonton forest somewhere & calling it home. Rohan co-facilitates Shades of Colour, which is a space for queer and trans Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour. He hopes to see that space grow into a hub for the ever-growing movement for liberation.
C (Postdoctoral Researcher, pronouns: he/him): C possesses expertise in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research exemplified by his PhD in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Saskatchewan. He specializes in sexual and gender minority-based research, and survey design and implementation. C applies these skills as a member of the CHEW Project research team in an effort to support the outreach staff and make a positive impact on the lives of the sexual and gender minority youth who access CHEW. When not working on research-related tasks, C is a big ol’ nerd who loves comic books (DC > Marvel), films and television (particularly science fiction [Star Trek > Star Wars] and superhero-based offerings [did I mention…DC > Marvel]), video games (Nintendo FTW), and spending time with his man (you know who you are).
Emily (Research Assistant, pronouns: she/her): Emily is a master’s student from Calgary in the School and Clinical Child Psychology program at the University of Alberta. In her research, she plans to explore the correlation between high school dropout rates and involvement with the youth justice and child welfare systems among sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth . She plans to research what factors might influence whether or not these youth stay in school. In order to narrow her research scope, she will examine police officers working as school resource officers, and the role they play as caring professionals in the lives of SGM youth. On top of her studies, Emily works part time as a Research Assistant with the CHEW project. Outside of school and research, Emily loves music, camping, and a good Netflix binge.
Jeff (Research Assistant, pronouns: he/him): Jeff is a PhD student in Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta with a passion for LGBTQ+ wellness. With his work in research and advocacy he strives to help build a world in which our diversity is our strength and where everyone can live in safety and comfort as their authentic selves. In his free time he likes to read, work out, and play video games.
Wyatt (pronouns: he/him): Wyatt is a Metis man from the city of Calgary. He plays the fiddle, and really likes to paint when he can. For his masters research, Wyatt is drawing both from his teachings from family and elders, as well as personal experiences as a student diagnosed with dyslexia in public school to argue that, as a society, we need to change the way we talk about people. In this research he will be questioning the concept of a learning disability, and suggest that rather than understand students (and people) in terms of how smart or ‘dumb’ they are, psychologists and teachers should understand that all people bring value to the world and our society, and it is the job of educators and psychologists to help bring this out in their students and clients. Thus, well being is a primary concern of education, not intelligence. Wyatt will be working with the folks at CHEW to undertake research which will honour the experiences and interests of Indigenous Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ youth in our community. He hopes that by bringing his perspectives as a bisexual Metis scholar he can positively contribute to the good work that CHEW is doing.
André P. Grace, PhD (Director, pronouns: he/him): André is Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Gender Minority Studies (Tier 1) in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on the comprehensive health, education and cultural concerns of sexual and gender minority youth. He has served as a member of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation’s Panel of Academic Experts for Sexual and Gender Minority issues. His work advancing the need for greater synchronicity among research, policy, and practice informs his book Growing into Resilience: Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2015). In 2017, Dr. Grace received the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General Community Justice Award in the Innovation Category for his extraordinary contributions promoting community safety through crime prevention for the province’s SGM youth. In 2018, he received the CAFA (Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations) Distinguished Academic Award for his work linking his CRC research program to advocacy and action that recognize and accommodate SGM youth. For more information on his research and books, please visit https://www.andrepgrace.com.
Previous Staff Members:
Charis (2017-2019) (Indigenous Peer Support Worker, pronouns: they/their, she/her): Charis is a human-being who exists within the intersections of Indigeneity, queerness, and poverty. They are a Bill C-31 member of the Bigstone Cree Nation located within the Treaty 8 territory, but have lived in amiskwacîwâskahikan since 2009. They are filled with gratitude to be able to do this work as an Indigenous Peer Support Worker, who supports the creation of safer spaces for our Rainbow Relatives.
We were so fortunate to have had Charis as part of the CHEW team. Charis has gone on to pursue their Bachelor of Education in the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) at the University of Alberta. Thank you Charis and best of luck with your degree - we know you’ll be an amazing teacher!