Even though Trent Jack, 19, is able to look after himself, it’s nice to know that Shane Jung, a WMMAL featherweight champion and Battlefield Fight League bantamweight champion, has his back as a mentor and friend.
Trent has been in government care on and off since he was three years old, so it helps to have a mentor who’s capable and tough.
June 4-10, 2018, marks B.C. Child and Youth in Care Week, a tradition that originated eight years ago because of advocacy by youth in and from care. It’s an opportunity to celebrate young people like Trent for their diverse talents, accomplishments and resiliency, and show them that there is a community that supports and stands with them.
Trent began his training in Ladysmith at Shaku Martial Arts when he was 13. He was being bullied in elementary school. At that time, he said he did not know how to stand up for himself.
Like many kids in care, Trent needed every ounce of resilience he could muster. His memory of the day when police came to his house, and removed him from his parents' care, is particularly scarring.
For some time, Trent was in and out of his parents' home. When he was nine, he went to live with his grandparents permanently. By the time he was 17, he said his own immaturity led to conflict with his grandmother. He was on the streets, involved with drugs and alcohol. One day, he ran into his sister, and soon afterward, his grandfather.
“It was their disappointment in me, when they saw the condition I was in. That was the beginning of me getting things together,” Trent explained.
He also credits Jung with being a part of that shift as well. “He knew what I was going through, because he’d lost his best friend to drugs.”
Trent becomes animated when he refers to his participation in an annual canoe trip, Tribal Journeys, which he has done before. This summer, he’ll journey to Tacoma, Wash., with the Kw`mut Lelum Child and Family Services Society.
Born in Duncan, Trent is a member of the Stz’uminus First Nation. He sits on the Nanaimo Youth Council where, along with other youth, he focuses on advocacy and issues of poverty reduction, mental health, career exploration and helping other young people explore interests through hobbies.
He works at a local restaurant and takes courses through Vancouver Island University, to complete his adult high school diploma. He then intends to enroll in a carpentry course. Social work is also in the back of his mind, for the future.
Trent said that in high school, it hurt to hear other kids talking about vacationing with their parents, having family dinners, going shopping, and all the stuff most kids take for granted, and that many foster kids have never known. “I’m used to burying my feelings as deeply as possible,” he said.
He said he wants every foster kid to know that they are not alone, although he recognizes from experience that “at some point in time, they will indeed feel absolutely alone.”
That’s why being involved in advocacy really matters to him. “I can give my two cents, and I get to see how happy everyone is to be a part of it, to be there and know that we fit in. It’s had a really positive impact,” he said, adding that advocacy work keeps him busy.
Trent imagines one day having some of his own kids, saying that he “wants to be the kind of parent to them that he never had.”
He said he’s “definitely going to enroll them in kickboxing,” so that , like him, they can build self-discipline and self-esteem.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development partners with the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks, the Adoptive Families Association of BC, the Indigenous Perspectives Society, the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC, First Call, and the Federation of Community Social Services of BC, to host celebratory events around the province during BC Child and Youth in Care Week.
Children and youth in care need diverse, loving and capable caregivers. Learn more about foster caregiving online: https://fosteringconnections.ca