Saskatoon

Lulu's Lodge emerges as a crucial resource for LGBTQ2S youth in Regina

The duplex was converted to a full home, so each young person has a safe place and their own bedroom.

Posted: June 07, 2019

The Queen City Pride flag hangs in Regina. (Tyler Pidlubny/CBC)

Ayden is part of the LGBTQ2S community in Regina, a demographic vulnerable to homelessness and social struggle. 

He says Lulu's Lodge saved his life.

Ayden found the lodge — a home he shares with five other young people — through the local John Howard Society.

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It's an old duplex converted into one home "so we all get our own bedroom," he said.

Lulu's Lodge is an initiative through the John Howard Society, where staff saw a gap in services catering to queer youth in the city.

There's a waiting list to get in, but Ayden isn't going anywhere. He said that without the support, he "probably [would not be] alive,"

"It's a very safe place over here," he said.

'We really understand each other'

The tenants of Lulu's Lodge are supported by social services and pool their money to cover the rent every month.

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Utilities are covered by the John Howard Society and fundraising.

The bills get paid, residents get fed, but it's so much more for Ayden. It's more like a family home.

"We help each other out. We're almost like brothers and sisters," he said. "We really understand each other."

While the John Howard Society is traditionally linked with transitioning out of prison and criminal justice, CEO Shawn Fraser understood the need to diversify.

"In Canada when you look at youth homelessness some reports suggest 20-40 percent come from the LGBTQ2S community," he said.

Programming is provided by the John Howard Society. Ayden takes life skills classes, for example.

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The John Howard Society plans to purchase a home someday and make Lulu's Lodge a permanent fixture in Regina.

First, they must establish the lodge as a success and a viable program. Five youth plus a mentor are living in the house now, and there's a growing waiting list.

"So far, it's been a thriving success," said Fraser.

The organization is holding a Pride barbecue fundraiser on Saturday as part of Queen City Pride.

with files from The Morning Edition