Friends of Ruby is dedicated to the progressive well-being of LGBTQI2S youth (aged 16-29) through mental health services, social services and housing. Our approach is comprehensive, involving mind, body and community – wherever you are on your personal journey.
Our vision – a world where all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and two-spirit young people feel validated, involved and feel empowered to lead healthier lives.
Friends of Ruby was founded in 2014 by Egale Canada as Egale Youth Services to meet the needs of LGBTQI2S youth in the Greater Toronto Area. The catalyst was Egale’s “Not under my roof” study that shone light on the crisis of LGBTQI2S youth homelessness due to disproportionately high rates of family rejection, violence and trauma.
The report made clear that there was an urgent need for services specifically for LGBTQI2S youth in the shelter system. It found that almost one in four young people experiencing homelessness or precarious living identified as LGBTQI2S. Subsequent research suggests the number is even higher, with unique barriers in particular for transgender youth for housing.
Moved to action, Egale Canada started two initiatives: the construction of a housing facility dedicated to LGBTQI2S youth and a Youth Centre to better support and understand the needs of youth while the house was under construction.
Since then, our Youth Centre doubled in size and features a drop-in space, barrier-free counselling, practical support programs and meals. It’s housed in a brand new, purposefully designed 7,500 square feet space at 489 Queen St. East and provides support to over 100 young people a month.
In 2019, we became an independent charity in order to best support young people and expand our scope as we prepared to open the Friends of Ruby Home – Canada’s first custom-built transitional housing facility for LGBTQI2S youth.
Why the name ‘Friends of Ruby’?
A few years ago, we had a young person who visited the drop-in space but never spoke with anyone. Most of the time they would sit in a corner by themselves and stare. Despite our best efforts, the youth didn’t seem comfortable engaging with staff or other participants.
Then one day we had a visit from Ruby, a golden retriever who enjoys cuddling and meeting new people. The two hit it off immediately. Little by little, the youth opened up, asking for Ruby whenever they visited and eventually starting counselling, with Ruby by their side.
Friends of Ruby is all about creating a supportive community. Like Ruby, we will be there with you on your journey. More than a pet, Ruby is a symbol of the connections that happen under our roof.
We believe everyone is like a ruby or uncut gem – unique, precious and worthy of care.
People-focusedWe value the dignity, strengths, and contributions of all individuals.
RespectWe are validating, respectful and welcoming, and exercise diversity, inclusion and equity through our interactions and practices.
Accountability & TransparencyWe strive to build and sustain trust with our partners, operate with integrity and sustainability with the highest possible ethical standards.
Continuous learningWe promote a culture of adaptability, embrace change and opportunity, encourage and motivate development, and always seek to improve.
CollaborationWe work together and foster strong and trusting relationships with our community partners, youth, staff, contractors, and volunteers.
Over 1,000 youth supported, with 15 to 25 new youth accessing the center every month.
More than 500 mental health crises diverted and visits to hospital emergency rooms prevented.
We host almost 70 individual case management sessions each month.
160 to 200 counselling sessions each month where youth can, individually or in group, learn coping skills and engage with topics related to gender identity and sexual orientation.
Our team reflects the diversity of the LGBTIQ2S community we support. Their experiences inform our comprehensive services and programs, creating a welcoming and uplifting space for youth. While we come from a wide array of backgrounds and professional experiences, what unites us is our dedication to supporting LGBTIQ2S youth.
Join the Circle
Want to get involved with Friends of Ruby? Get in touch today!
To receive information about our programs and services, please write us an email or give us a call.
Volunteers are an essential part of our organization and support staff and youth in different capacities.
Think you’re a good fit for the Friends of Ruby team? Check out the positions we’re currently looking to fill.