Age 20. Resides in Winnipeg, MB.
Dylan’s apartment is in the historic Roslyn building. The rent is split between three of them.
He’s grateful to live in the stable environment he has now. Dylan was in CFS care since he was thirteen. Transitioning into care was a difficult choice that he made.
“I went to Jewish day school in the North End, which was awesome because there was tons of other Jewish kids around. Everybody had high aspirations, and Jews of Winnipeg are mostly wealthier. It’s like this great community because people were well supported and well positioned to support each other. But then my parents got divorced and my mom.. I guess her mental health problems started getting the best of her.”
Dylan mentinoed that he is 16 years younger than his eldest sister. His mom had her when his mom was 16. And his eldest sister had her first child at 16.
“My mother was trying to raise myself, my brother, and my twin sister. That was hard – being a single parent and having mental health issues and a substance abuse problem. She lived in poverty and we never really had the stability that my friends had. They were going to Jewish summer camp. I was so appalled at my own circumstances because of how wealthy the other kids were. I’d be like struggling to get enough clothes together for three weeks without being able to do laundry. and these kids were telling me that I didn’t have nice enough things to be coming to camp.”
“I lived with my mom. Pretty shitty since she was in poverty. When I was 13 I started getting more and more sick of it. My dad died when I was 10 – he had cancer issue for 4 or 5 years. I had some pretty bad depression issues after he passed away. I managed to get in to this really great guy and he kinda coached me through my depression. Childhood depression is like a whole other ball game, I have no idea how you could deal with that ton a day to day basis but he could, he did it well. As time went on it became more apparent that my circumstances might not all be due to mental health and may be due to the shitty environment that I’m in. So with his help, and my own frustration, i erupted one day and flushed my moms pot and called the cops. That was like the day that I ended… like I never went home after that.
Basically what happened was I had a panic attack after I flushed my moms weed and went to the hospital in an ambulance. The cops knocked on my door. They come out and say Hey Dylan what happened earlier? And I talked about me flushing her drugs and me feeling uncomfortable. I remember them saying so you’re more of the parent in this household than she is. And that was very representative of my feelings at the time. I felt like it was clear that she was the parent she didn’t go to school she had to get a job she had to work or do something that was better. Obviously I wasn’t taking into account her mental health issues and those problems and how they impact her. But the police after that told me that my mother didn’t feel safe with me in the home. In my opinion what my mom was trying to do was teach me a lesson about flushing her pot. But she said “I don’t feel safe, you have to go stay in a shelter.”
Dylan will be on a panel this coming Monday at an event called 25not21: Sharing Our Stories. He is leading a group of student activists and youth from care in lobbying the provincial government to change the age-out extension policy.
“They took me to Mayfair. I remember having this really terrified night where I was just with homeless kids basically and I was like clinging onto my iPod because it was the one thing that I owned. I was so terrified because I had this image of homelessness and poor people as being this really negative thing because of like the juxtaposition from being a Jewish kid in Garden City right. So I was really terrified but after that I just refused to go home and I wound up couch surfing between my friends places. Social workers got involved and they’re like what’s happening and eventually I said I need to go into care.”
Dylan chose to go into care. In many situations, children are taken from families. Sometimes unjustly. On the other hand, Dylan recognized at the age of 13 that he needed support. He needed someone other than his birth mother to ensure he could survive.
He moved through multiple foster homes, as many kids did. One was out in the country. It didn’t last though, because as a then 16 year old, Dylan was shaping his own understanding of the world, and his caregiver’s racist and homophobic beliefs restricted his ability to work on what he was passionate about. He left that home in much the same way he left his mother.
“This is the worst I’ve ever been in mental health-wise. I was in this crazy depression where I had like 10 days in a row where I had not really eaten anything. I didn’t have an appetite and I was really suicidal and wouldn’t talk to my caregivers at all. And I remember Diane, the woman that lives there, just yelling, trying to get me to come out. She would scream and say Dylan you need to grow up and learn how to make your own way in the world, you can’t just sit in your room all day. I rememer being so mad at her once that I punched a hole in my wall. After that I couldn’t take it and I left just the same way I had the panic attack like three years earlier, and I went to the hospital.”
The cops got involved this time. They charged him for punching a hole in the wall so that he could go to juvy for the night – instead of staying at the home. He’s not sure how, but that evening they took him back to Mayfair instead.
“Basically really really terrified. I ended up staying at that shelter for a few days. I came from this sheltered home in the country, and in my first few days there (at Mayfair) I saw this person get like 40 Vicodin taken from her. She was freaking out. The staff were freaking out and three cops had to come in. They were restraining her and she was screaming about how someone was gonna get hurt. I remember being so fucking terrified this was happening. But then I got more used to it and a few days later I was in a bus shack with a bunch of kids crushing up someones pills and snorting them. I ended up just staying in a bunch of different foster homes and shelters. Then when I was 17 I ended up moving to this really great home and family that was super supportive and super awesome, but it didn’t feel like I was connecting with them cause like, what 17 year old is going to take up new parents, and I ended up living on my own.”
Dylan has been on his own since then. He will age out of care this year. Usually CFS care goes until you’re 18. If you fill out the forms, and are a permanent ward of care, you can extend that to the age of 21. Dylan is now fighting to change that to the age of 25. Many reports have recommended this change in the CFS system. Ontario and Alberta follow this policy. The ability to support people like Dylan, who is a student at The University of Winnipeg and who is working with other youth from care, is important to allow foster kids to go somewhere in life. To change the path their parents (or lack of) put them on. To decide their own fate.
Check out the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/901376863263827/
The campaign recently made the news for a protest on the steps of the Legislature building. They invited provincial ministers to attend the film screening and panel on Monday. When they did reply, they staged a cry-in. Dylan did nine interviews with the press that day.