Black youth find support in Little Burgundy's Desta Network
MONTREAL - Frances Waithe was inspired to launch the Desta Black Youth Network after visiting Montreal courtrooms.
The notion came from, "going down to the courthouse and watching black youth all over the courtrooms. That was quite alarming for me."
She looked around at the next generation of kids in her area and realized they could easily make that same wrong turns.
"A these youth grow you get watch them grow into young people and the worry was: where were they going?" she asked.
In 2006 Waithe appealed to the St. Anthony of Padua Church and received a space for her operations and soon government hooked her up with six months of funding to mentor marginalize youth.
Desta has since started offering housing, counseling and educational resources in which tutors provide young people with a second chance at learning.
One young man saw Desta help reverse his downward spiral.
"My mental outlook today: I feel great, I feel healthy I'm doing good," said Kimroy Miller Edwards, 22, who prior to Desta had languished in a state of unemployment and homelessness.
Miller Edwards is now set to launch the Desta Café in March.
The support that the group offers can put young people on the right track, according to one of its staffers.
"Once they come here they feel safe and supported and loved, and the change that you see is apparent in the way that they walk, they smile more and they just really blossom," said Chantal Murulaz.