My experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) has been extremely positive.

I was struck by the care that the organization takes in matching mentors with mentees and the amount of genuine passion that BBBS staff from all areas of the organization demonstrate for children.

In addition to this, BBBS staff take a very supportive and wellbeing-oriented stance towards one another which I found very impressive and something for me to model myself after.

I only started mentoring in November of 2020 and I already feel more confident in my ability to make a positive difference in the lives of children.

I am more convinced of the importance of doing so, and I’m well supported by BBBS to make such an impact.

My most memorable moment has to be when my nine-year-old male mentee hugged me in front of the school principal and administrative staff after me not seeing him for a few weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions.

I took this as a pleasant surprise but did not make much of it in the moment, but I later learned from the school staff and my supervisor that this was a key moment because my mentee had not shown trust in other male figures up until this point.

I very much felt the weight of that moment after learning this.

This was a key moment because my mentee had not shown trust in other male figures up until this point. 

The biggest thing I learned was not conceptual or technical, but merely that there were highly motivated youth out in local communities that were committed to advancing the cause of justice in a substantive, non-performative way.

It is different to experience solidarity and commonality with such people, as opposed to just knowing they exist as a matter of fact.

Feeling this solidarity was very motivating and it encourages me to think critically about my duties as a citizen and as a person in society when it comes to matters of justice and diversity.

I came away from the Paying It Forward training with a stronger conviction in my own beliefs, a deeper sense of solidarity and a more urgent sense of the need for critical thinking.

I pay special attention to nuance in matters of social justice.

I try to remember people, like those involved in my cohort, exist when I am discouraged by the bigoted or performative content that I see in the news or on social media.

It affirmed to me I don’t need to post this or that – I need to do what I’ve already been doing, but better.

I need to intensify my engagement with organizations that are geared towards justice, I need to learn more about hard policy, I need to leverage my influence in personal relationships.

Thanks to Canadian Heritage for supporting the Paying It Forward project!