RAFT featured tonight in CBC doc
A unique program offered by a
St. Catharines program for at risk youth is the focus of a new documentary, premiering on CBC tonight.
The documentary, called “Next of Kin,” focuses on a family-finding program offered by The RAFT (Resource Association for Teens), which connects homeless youths with their biological parents or other family members, with a goal of giving them access to the support of family members that in some cases they never knew they had.
The documentary by filmmaker Nadine Pequeneza tells the story of RAFT social workers Jackie Winger and Amanda Elam, who help a struggling Jacob, 21, and Tahylour, 24, connect with their families, and in doing so overcome the life-threatening issues they face.
With RAFT’s help, Jacob — a new father at risk of returning to jail — meets his grandmother Debra for the first time and learns of his Indigenous heritage; and Tahylour — a young woman suffering from depression who has trieds to take her own life — finds answers she’s been looking during a year-long search for her father.
A media release issued by Pequeneza’s company Hit Play Productions says more than 60,000 Canadian children have been separated from their families and placed in either foster care or group homes, only to face the world alone when they are discharged from the child welfare system usually when they reach age 19.
RAFT executive director Mike Lethby said the program has given every youth reunited with family members “a new understanding of who they are.”
“Suddenly, they have the knowledge of where they came from, they understand their culture, and they finally have an identity,” he said in the media release.
Pequeneza described the two young people at the heart of her documentary as “incredibly resilient and resourceful.”
The documentary will be broadcast at 9 p.m., and is available online at cbc.ca/watch and on the CBC app starting at noon.