Programming Connection

Stoney Trail Workshop 

Calgary Urban Projects
Calgary, AB
2016

When Joseph Kryl Skinner was cured of Hep C in January 2015, his nurse asked him what he was going to do next. When she suggested university, he laughed. “What am I going to do there?,” he asked.

After years of living on the streets and being addicted to drugs, he never imagined that he would go to university. But that’s what he did. Through the care and support he received at Calgary Urban Projects (CUPS), he was encouraged to get a certificate degree in Working with Homelessness Populations (WHP) at the University of Calgary. And since earning this degree, he’s been busy motivating others by creating a sustainable work program for people who have experienced homelessness, most of whom have lived experience with Hep C or have experienced mental illness or addiction.

In February 2015, Joe started the Stoney Trail Workshop: a work program that currently employs seven people to make wood planters and other furniture. Joe is able to pay his employees by selling the items they make online. Moreover, this work program is a safe space where they can talk about the challenges they face, namely stigma and mental health issues.

It gives the men and women a sense of purpose and allows them to feel proud of themselves. “It’s a natural high. Being wanted and needed is always good in life,” explains Joe.

Joe receives worker referrals mainly from Housing First, a housing program funded by the city but also finds people through his CUPS Hep C peer support group.

Although the program does not have a website, Joe plans on creating an online presence as it gains more momentum. For more information about the Stoney Trail Workshop, contact Joe Skinner at joeskinner20@gmail.com.