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The Origins of YouthLink

Youthlink was created as the Big Sisters Movement in 1914 by Hilda Burns. Hilda Burns was a social worker with the mandate to work with, and advocate for teenage girls referred to as offenders.

History of the Big Sisters Including Hilda Burns when she founded the Big Sisters Movement in 1914

 

When YouthLink was called the Big Sisters Movement and later the Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto, it was a leader in girl’s rights like mental health, education, and extra-curricular activities for girls to enjoy.

This was done at a time when women were not expected to pursue education and did not have many rights like the right to hold office. The Big Sisters Movement paved the way for girl’s rights in Canada like mental health and extra-curricular activities and they also helped usher several girls to have an education when they were segregated in the early 20th century.

Mental Health

Mental health was one of the biggest problems girls faced in the early history of YouthLink. At that time men were taking advantage of young girls and exploiting them. The Big Sisters Association of Canada were one of the biggest driving forces for girl’s rights in mental health. So much so that Lady Byng, the wife of former governor-general of Canada Lord Byng, was a big advocate for.

Lady Byng, wife of Lord Byng former governor-general of Canada

Article: Must Protect Mentally Weak, Says Lady Byng

The Big Sisters Movement later named the Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto had helped several youths with their mental health issues by getting them engaged in the community like education and summer camps.

Education

One of the Big Sisters of Metropolitan Toronto’s biggest achievement was with giving girls the right to an education. From 1914-1947 the Big Sisters Movement later named Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto were giving financial aid to girls attending or desiring to attend secondary schools (Robinson H, Big Sisters Bulletin, Volume 1 – No. 9 – Some Facts About the Scholarship Work of the Big Sister Association). Furthermore, a girl did not have to be a brilliant student to get to secondary schools, as the main requirement was to pass her “Entrance” exams.

Big Sisters Bulletin: Some Facts About the Scholarship Work of the Big Sisters Association

The Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto did not stop there though as they provided for free lunches for girls who either had a mother working away from home most of the day or has some form of family illness.

Big Sisters Bulletin: Some Facts About the Scholarship Work of the Big Sisters Association

The Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto also helped with girls with free lunch and makeup, which showed that this company was willing to help girls find a place in the world where they can learn and have fun with their creative idea of summer camps for young girls.

Extra-Curricular Activities

The Big Sisters Movement played a big role in a girl’s education and giving girls a chance to explore themselves through extra-curricular activities. These extra-curricular activities were done under summer camps, which helped underprivileged girls living under anti-social conditions. 

These summer camps had 125 girls on average staying in the summer camp for 2 weeks. These camps included dancing classes that allowed girls to forget about personal or mental problems and allowed them to be kids and enjoy themselves in these extra-curricular activities (Many Girls Aided by Big Sisters).

 

Many Girls Aided By Big Sisters 1921 Article

 

Influence of Youthlink’s Origin in Canada

Youthlink, a company that started as the Big Sisters Movement in 1914, then, later on, became the Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto, plays a big role in how Youthlink serves youth in Scarborough, which is to help people in any way possible.

Giving young girls a pathway to secondary school, and advocating for the mental well-being and the creation of summer camps helped bridge the gender gap in Toronto at a time where gender inequality was a big issue in now Canada’s largest city.

It also paved the wave for Youthlink to help as many people as possible with initiatives to help underprivileged youth in Scarborough just like what the Big Sisters Movement and the Big Sisters Association of Metropolitan Toronto did for girls. For example, in a CBC article, Youthlink has recently revealed the creation of a homeless shelter for homeless youth in Scarborough, where unfortunately 2,000 youth are homeless.

Taylor Simmons, CBC News. CBC – New Homeless Shelter for Youth Officially Opens in Scarborough