About Us

YouthCO was founded in 1994 by a group of youth! Today, YouthCO continues to be peer-led agency working to reduce the impact of stigma related to HIV and Hep C. We are an organization of young leaders who work to affect meaningful change through peer support, education and community engagement. We strive to foster inclusive communities where youth empower youth.

All of our work is connected to our mission, and informed by our six values and four approaches. We are always looking to grow in the ways we integrate these values and approaches into our work culture, programs, and participant experience. During our Core Training program for staff and volunteers, we have the chance to explore these values and approaches together.

Mission

YouthCO's mission is to reduce the impact of HIV and Hep C stigma on youth in British Columbia.

Our Values
  • Anti-oppressive
  • Cháchsaý, a Squamish word meaning generosity (introduced September 2016)
  • Inclusive
  • Innovative
  • Sex-positive
  • Youth-Driven
Our Approaches
  • Shared Leadership
  • Peer Education & Support
  • Harm Reduction
  • Community Engagement

Our accessibility audit from Radical Access Mapping Project was completed in 2011, and is available here. At this time, our physically accessible washroom is out of service. We are actively seeking funds to resolve this barrier.

To learn more about YouthCO's history, watch this video produced as part of AIDS Vancouver 30th anniversary!

See our Staff and Board Bios below!

Staff

Furqan

Pronouns: he, him, his. Furqan is the Positive Program Manager at YouthCO. He was born in Pakistan and raised in Maldives. He moved to Vancouver Canada in 2013 to pursue an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Furqan’s all-time... More

Skye

Skye (he/him/his) is from Kispiox B.C. and is from the Gitxsan nation, but now lives in Prince George. Skye hopes to teach English, but in meantime he has a passion for supporting the queer and trans community in Northern British... More

Janna

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Janna is a white settler living as an uninvited guest on this land. She grew up on Crawford Purchase land, nearby Treaty 57, in 'Ontario' and spent her adolescence as a queer, HCV+, street-involved youth, and... More

Ivan

Pronouns: he, him, his. Ivan is the Mpowerment Program Manager at YouthCO. He was born and raised in iere, land of the hummingbirds, kalinago territory and moved to Coast Salish Territories in 2012 seeking a change from colonially imposed anti-queer laws... More

Amanda

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Amanda spent her childhood in Waglisa (Bella Bella, B.C) where she got to experience a tight knit community enriched with culture of the Heiltsuk people. Moving to Vancouver she got to experience her Squamish roots. Going on... More

Adrian

Pronouns: they/them/theirs, he/him/his. Adrian is a first-generation Canadian raised by refugee parents from Chile. As a queer person of colour, they strive to better the queer and trans communities in the Coast Salish Territories through community-building events and empowering queer... More

Jessamyn

Pronouns: they, them, theirs. Jessamyn is a queer second-generation Taiwanese settler who lives on Coast Salish Territory. Jessamyn has a background in sexual health advocacy and workshop facilitation. They are passionate about understanding and navigating the intersections of culture and... More

Emily

Pronouns: she/her/hers. Emily is a mixed race queer community organizer and arts practitioner. The descendant of South Asian, English and Austrian immigrants and an uninvited guest living on Coast Salish Territory, Emily works to find the magic living in the... More

Jessica

Pronouns: she/her/hers. Jessica is YouthCO's Positive Programs Coordinator and the Assistant Director at Camp Moomba! In the past, she has been involved as the Positive Programs Intern, and as a Camp Moomba alumni volunteer.  She is happy to be back in such... More

Nona

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Nona is the Yúusnewas Educator focused on Harm Reduction. Nona is from the Ditidaht First Nations. She moved to the unceded and ancestral lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh nations in 2016 to finish her... More

Bill

Pronouns: He,him,his, they, them, theirs. Bill is a queer Chinese first generation settler, a dancer, an artist, a community organizer. He has a passion for exploring the connections between history, culture, community and queerness – how community care re-shapes self-care;... More

Samira

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Samira's first official involvement with YouthCO was through developing and lead a workshop at the Positive Gathering, ABCs of HIV and as a Camp Moomba group leader. Wth the experience with working with such great people... More

Sarah

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Sarah is a White settler on Coast Salish territory, and moved here from Ontario to be part of the fantastic team at YouthCO. Sarah has been part of HIV and Hep C education, policy making, research,... More

Board of Directors

Kevin Truong

Pronouns: he, him, his. Kevin is an East Van local who loves Excel spreadsheets. He serves on YouthCO’s Board of Directors as the Treasurer, crunching numbers to his heart’s delight, and is a professional mathlete. Kevin believes in the positive... More

Cindy Chen

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Cindy first became involved with YouthCO in high school, has stayed with the organization ever since, and currently serves as the Board Chair. Coming from experiences working in biochemistry research and clinical research, Cindy is interested... More

Ariel Sernick

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Ariel moved to Vancouver from Toronto in 2016 and getting involved with YouthCO has been her favourite part about living on the west coast! Ariel loves youth-centred environments and has worked with young people in Vancouver,... More

Katrina Koehn

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Katrina joined YouthCO as a board member in 2018, and is currently in the final year of her studies at Simon Fraser. She has worked as a research assistant at the BC Centre for Excellence in... More

Additional Board Members

Stay tuned for more info about our board members! More

Carly Welham

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Carly is a settler originally from Cree territory in Manitoba who now lives in East Vancouver with her cat Riker. Her working life has largely focused on harm reduction and mental health, including working in government,... More

Chenoa Cassidy-Matthews

Pronouns: she, her, hers. Chenoa is a Nishnawbe:kwe of Sachigo Lake First Nation (she/her), and is currently a PhD student at the University of British Columbia. Her research centers the experiences of urban Indigenous young people who use drugs and... More

GB Olarewaju

Pronouns: he, him, his. GB is extremely happy to serve on the YouthCO board. He hails from Nigeria and immigrated to Canada for university. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate education at the University of Guelph in Ontario and is... More

1

YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!