Complex Needs Banning Research

This community-based research project was conducted in partnership with the Complex Needs Committee of Edmonton, a group of shelter service providers that meet regularly to discuss trends and identify gaps and potential solutions to issues arising within the sector. M.A.P.S. Alberta Capital Region was asked to explore and share the learnings about the banning experience of complex needs clients from the perspective of service providers and those with lived experience, with a focus on experiences at shelters, encampments and drop in spaces.


Providing Accessible Transit Here (PATH)

A City of Edmonton program that provides free monthly transit passes to individuals who are homeless or are at high risk of homelessness.

Sponsored and convened by the City of Edmonton and provided through various social agencies, Providing Accessible Transit Here (PATH) gives vulnerable Edmontonians a monthly transit pass. This helps them to attend school and seek work and housing, as well as medical and other social services.

In 2016, PATH evolved out of the Youth Transit Access Project. The City of Edmonton, MAPS Alberta, the High-Risk Youth Initiative with the Government of Alberta and five youth-serving agencies (Boyle Street Education Centre, iHuman Youth Services, Native Counselling Services of Alberta, Old Strathcona Youth Society and Youth Empowerment Support Services) worked together to distribute 100 monthly youth transit passes. The project was successful and it expanded in November 2016 to include vulnerable youth and adults.

Media coverage

Rainbow Alliance for Youth of Edmonton (RAYE)

RAYE’s purpose is to share the diverse stories of LGBTQ2S+ youth living in the Edmonton area to promote increased understanding, empathy, and knowledge of this community’s specific needs, strengths, and experiences.

AAYI (formerly OSCMAP) Safe Streets, Phases 1-4

AAYI is a collaboration of youth serving agencies and community partners who are working as allies for youth in high-risk situations to help support them.

Mill Woods’ A Student Voice

Mill Woods Schools participated in A Student Voice, a project designed by the Mill Woods Youth Collaborative. The Mill Woods Youth Collaborative is a partnership of human service providers working in Mill Woods who were interested in developing the project as a way to engage youth in discussing social & community issues, and to assist service providers in responding to the needs identified by the youth.

A Student Voice used community mapping to invite Grade 8 Mill Woods students to:

  1. Identify assets in their community
  2. Identify safe and unsafe areas in their community
  3. Think of creative ways to improve undesirable areas and activities in their community

The lessons aimed to engage students in conversations about their community, and specifically about how they view community safety. The lessons fit into the local Grade 8 Health and Life Skills curriculum and were facilitated by their teachers. The students considered where & how they spend their after-school time, where in Mill Woods they feel safe or unsafe, and what could be done to make Mill Woods a safer place and a better place for teens.

Mill Woods Social Norms

Wanting to challenge public perceptions that Mill Woods is unsafe and youth are engaged in negative behaviours, a small group of SEYAC members initiated a Social Norms project.

The South East Youth Action Coalition (SEYAC) surveyed youth and adults engaged in activities in Mill Woods to learn more about perceptions of youth behaviours and substance use. The surveys explored youth and adult perceptions of the amount of substance use Mill Woods youth engage in, as well as the actual behaviours of youth respondents for comparison.

299 youth and 268 adults completed surveys between July 2013 and July 2015. Youth respondents largely indicated they had not used alcohol, tobacco or other drugs in the last 30 days, demonstrating a norm of non-use for the youth respondents. When asked to estimate the rates of use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs over the last 30 days among Mill Woods youth, youth and adult respondents both estimated rates of use much higher than the rates reported by the youth respondents.

Engaging Newcomers

This project was conducted with the support and partnership of ASSIST Community Services Centre, Multi Cultural Health Brokers, and M.A.P.S. Alberta Capital Region to explore and share newcomer experiences seeking and accessing services and supports, and what factors facilitated or were a barrier to engagement.

Interviews were conducted with 25 newcomers about their experiences seeking support from services, and determinants of engagement with services and supports. 12 service providers (many who had experienced immigration themselves) also participated in discussions on engaging newcomers seeking support. Newcomer participants were grateful to be in Canada but described life in Canada as more challenging than they expected. Many were initially unaware supports existed and felt frustrated they did not know about available supports when they most needed them. The participants spoke warmly about the supports they now currently received, which they perceived as supportive, informative, and responsive. A welcoming approach and active listening were identified as key qualities for newcomers to stay engaged with supports. Recommendations from both newcomers and service providers included more information provided to newcomers (either pre-arrival or as orientation post-arrival), and increased awareness of available supports to prevent or alleviate times of stress or crisis.

Building a Better Life

Building a Better Life was a three year project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project had two objectives of connection and insight.

  • Connection: to create research synergies, comprised of service providers to marginalized populations, municipal government, and researchers, to build cohesion around policy and programming issues.
  • Insight: to learn how loneliness and self-esteem affect Social Capital, and how some can successfully use their Social Capital to strengthen their Human Capital to build better futures, while others have difficulty.

Lived Experience Leadership - Literature Review

M.A.P.S. recognizes the important contributions that people with lived experience can make to our discussions regarding social change. We are collaborating with people with lived experience in the areas of mental health, addictions, and homelessness. We are committed to elevating the voice of lived experience as strong and valid evidence of what’s working and not working within our human service systems. We recognize the importance of current experiences and therefore want to support the inclusion of people with lived experience in social change leadership. We decided to search for any shared knowledge regarding the leadership provided by people with lived experience. Our search resulted in some great examples of lived experience leadership in Europe and the learnings gained over the last decade. Please take a moment to read this short Literature Review.