Each year, we get to work with the most incredible group of young people. They all have rich stories, have shown resilience and fortitude and they are worth getting to know. As part of their work with us, we ask the staff, in their own words, to share the parts of the stories they feel comfortable with others knowing - and the parts that reveal more of their depth. It's not an easy thing, to be vulnerable in your own words, and we commend each one of them for digging deep to share these beautiful bios. Please read with care and understanding. We'll be updating this page with more bios as the summer goes on.
To put everything simply, my name is Seth and I'm a 16 year old boy who's lived all over Ontario throughout my short life. If you'd like to know more, just read along.
I was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Nothing was special about my birth, save for I was born with black skin due to my body bruising. Nothing special.
Growing up in my early years, I was moved all over Thunder Bay as well as moving back and forth between my res and Thunder Bay. Then I hit 8 or 9 and my mom met someone who lived away from my "comfort" zone, in Quebec. There was rough times. For one, I was further away from my family than I had ever been, and I had almost no contact with them. Back then I didn't realize how important family was to me. I lived there for half a year before moving to my res again. Here I lived with my Aunty Noreen who passed away just before I moved back to Thunder Bay.
Back in Thunder Bay I lived with my grandma before my mom moved back here, to which I moved in with her. Living with my mom again I picked up a new hobby - writing stories - even though I don't read. I'm not that good right now, but I always revisit my stories. Anyways, back on topic. My writing for a while to distract me from my problems. But it was always there, and they came back to the front when I moved once again. My mom wanted to move to a bigger city than Tbay. That city was the capital of Canada, Ottawa. Over there was overwhelming and terrible. I was, once again, cut off from my family. This time at least we had a toilet. Over there I basically dropped out of school. I was only showing up once every two weeks. Worse is that school said nothing about ME. They had no qualms with dealing with my mom, but they never said anything to me. So much for that teaching of caring in those schools. So I was depressed up there, but I denied it. I was just a terrible person who didn't care, I told myself. That went on for half a year before I moved back, alone once again, to Thunder Bay to go live with my grandparents. Here was an improvement on my attendance in school, but not so much my mental state. My grandparents are good people, no doubt but they aren't exactly the happiest persons. That house had a subtle negativity about that didn't wave. So my depression stayed until I got into an argument with my grandparents and moved out to my aunts place. From these few months I solved my problems and I am happy again and working for Roots to Harvest.
My name is Penny and I am 18 years old. I would have to say my sister is the most important person in my life. She is my rock. She took care of me when I was little and still manages to look out for me, as well as look after two of her own kids. One other very important person who I keep in my heart, is my best friend, Karana. She passed away 3 years ago, and still it has been really difficult. I wouldn't say I'm done grieving, but I've found ways to make it easier.
What keeps me going every day are my niece and nephew. They are what makes the future possible. I want them to see what I'm doing, and do better.
It feels like I'm on the dark side of a wall, and the other side is all the good that I can see happening. With help from my family, and a bit of faith, I will get to my good side.
When I was 6 my parents got a divorce. It did not affect me though. My mom moved to Murillo, we rented a small old farm house, some days we'd have no electricity & water, I found that house quite fun. After the summer of 2006 we moved to another house in Murillo and we stayed in that house for 4 years. I had lots of really good friends out there. The end of grade 4 came around and I moved back to the city, I lost touch with all my friends. I became an outcast at my new schools and didn't make any new friends from grades 5-8. On April 2nd, 2014 my uncle passed away. I was very close to him. After he passed I went to a dark place, but my mom supported me and held me back up. She definitely is my rock.
When I got to high school I struggled I struggled a lot with who I was, and who I wanted to be. Who I was and who I wanted to be were very different. I was a troubled teenager with gender dysphoria and mental health issues. Who I wanted to be was a proud, successful, confident male. I could say who I am today was not who I was 3 years ago. I have changed for the better of myself. I am now a straight A student who has 2 jobs and is transitioning into the man I want to be. The biggest challenge I have is being a trans male. The hardest part about my transition was the start of it - figuring out I was different from the 'norm'. When I first came out in grade 9, there were a lot of ignorant people making immature comments, I'd even get death threats, that didn't stop me from being true to myself though. I stayed strong, I fought my battle head on, and I conquered it. I became more confident, wise and open minded on my journey to where I am today.
I enjoy working for Roots to Harvest. Everyone is so kind hearted and supporting. My crew taught me how to be myself. Never in a million years have I thought to sing out loud in the van with a bunch of people around. Little did I know that we would play 'Living the Dream' by Bart Baker and all of us start singing it like no one's watching. I created a family within a couple weeks, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to call my family.
My name is Kilten - I am 17 years old. The thing I find most important is my family because they keep me going and help me make good choices while supporting my choices. The most important person to me is my dad there isn't much (if anything) I don't like about him. He's caring, respectable and overall nice person and I hope I can be like him one day. My main goal right now is to finish high school which is a challenge due to the fact I don't like school. A good quality about me is I'd like to think I'm a nice person but I can't judge that myself. Some qualities I could improve on is I think I could be nicer but I don't really know. I also think I should be more cheerful and outgoing but it's hard due to the fact that I'm always tired and when I'm really tired I get grumpy. But I can't get enough sleep because I like staying up late. My end goal by 2020 is to own a Chevrolet Camaro which is my dream car.
Hello - My name is Dawn and I'm 18 years old. Well, my crossroads have been the offer to this job. I was so close to saying no but the thought of working here made me feel very nice inside - you know that feeling you get when thinking of something good. Also, a crossroads was going to the program that introduced me to Roots to Harvest.
I know I'm still a "work-in-progress", just like any and everybody else.... I just got older and realized some things. Challenges I overcame have to be self-esteem and cutting down on my smoking habit. My diet is hard for me too. I love me some fries but I feel somewhat guilty. Don't care - a woman's got to eat!
I'm looking forward to the rest of this job at Roots to Harvest and I'm proud of the progress I've made at Roots to Harvest and I guess I'm proud that I made it to 18 and 3 months.
I don't know my place in the community yet and I'm alright with that. I am an "in-the-moment" kind of person.
My name is Amber. I'm 16 years old but I've lived more life than the average teen. When I was little some stuff happened that kinda messed with me. I turned to rebelling like getting suspended and having my first cigarette at age 10. I wasn't the greatest kid for a while, I got placed in grade 9, only got 1 credit in the first year, doing drugs etc. In the summer after grade 9 I just made the decision I didn't want to fail in my life which is what I believed for a long time. I got double the amount of credits you would normally get in a year (18) which pretty much got me completely caught up. It was definitely not as easy as it sounds, cut off almost all of my friends and stopped drinking and doing drugs to focus on myself and my credits. From there I pretty much just got a job and kept doing what I was doing. Moved back home and stayed focused. Mostly smooth sailing, still very tough times but I feel as if I can conquer almost anything from here. I am very proud of what I am becoming, despite what I've gone through.
I am so blessed to be working with Roots to Harvest. The work we do is just amazing along with my co-workers and supervisors. My favourite parts are going to local farms and getting closer with everyone. They all make coming to work not bad at all, even if we have a day of shovelling manure ahead of us.
So yeah, there's a very short version of my story and why I love Roots to Harvest so much. Thanks for reading. ROOTS 2 HARVEST REPRESENT! <3
My name is Ashley and I'm 17 years old. What is most important to me is waking up every day and getting out of the house and making my time useful. My highlights in the morning is seeing my family. They are my number one in my life because they've stuck by my side no matter what place I was in. I've been in a place where sleeping and staying in the house was a routine for me and what made me want to change was to make my mom proud cause of everything she has done for me. Also, life is too short and I've seen people make decisions that end up being life threatening. I want to see what I can achieve and by trying bigger, scarier things I've made it to loving the outdoors and loving being around people.
What's hard for me is staying positive because once you're in a low place it isn't easy holding yourself together all the time.
I'm proud of being able to do the things I like which is being around good people, having lots of fun and working with Roots to Harvest. It allowed me to see many cool things and learn more about gardening :) I've had the best summer yet that I've had in a long time. Everybody here is really supportive.
My name is Logan and I'm 18 years old. The things that are important to me are my family. My family is important because family matters, and they've been through the same stuff as you experienced them together. Some challenges I've faced and still am facing is anxiety (social anxiety) which I'm working on due to Roots to Harvest. Roots to Harvest is good for me because I'm talking to people at our market and it's helping me cope with the anxiety.
Going to school can be a problem because I used to think it was a waste of time, getting taught the same thing over and over again.
One of the things that motivates me is making money at this job. To me, making money means that I'm responsible and I can take care of priorities such as rent or certain living conditions that can depend upon.
I think my crossroad was when I moved to Thunder Bay from Sandy Lake. This was a crossroad because moving to Thunder Bay, everything was different and back home I had a troubled mind, not knowing from bad & good. Health care and education ain't the best there, but moving to Thunder Bay has been a good change of crowd, change of thoughts, feelings and actions. Moving to Thunder Bay and doing Roots to Harvest has made me realize a lot and feel more confident. I've been told I've got good insight and I'd like to believe it. I'm very proud that Roots to Harvest hired me and I'm coming and I'm getting school credits.
Doing things with a group etc, I've realized I've been really focussing on the present in the moment instead of worrying of the past or what's to come. I learn new things, I use my brain and it tires me out before bed.
HI my name is Katie. The most important people to me are my parents because they adopted me when I was a baby and brought me into their loving home and life. When I am 18 I want to know who my brothers and sisters are and I want to know how they feel being adopted too.
Something I am proud of is how far I've come as a dancer and not giving up on the hard dances like hip hop and being on stage. I had to quit gymnastics to go into dance, and it was hard leaving something that I'd started. I'm also proud of how far I've come with school and pushing through it.
I like working with Roots to Harvest, learning how to harvest different foods and become a harder worker than I was before. Also, learning how to work with different people that I don't know. What keeps me going day to day at work is all the fun things we get to do and learn at many different places. Also learning about many different foods and how to care for them. Last, seeing everyone because everyone is so happy and fun and loving to be together as a team. It's like coming to my second home every day.
Working at Roots to Harvest for me means helping out. I like to work here because it's fun and I'm not sitting inside writing on paper - I find that boring. Work is easy and school, I guess, I fund hard.
If I wasn't working at Roots to Harvest I would be sleeping, playing video games and walking around the city. I am proud of working here.
In the city I get stared at all the time, like I did something to offend them - it feels shitty. If I could change one thing about Thunder Bay it would be no racism.
I don't know how to finish this thing so bye!