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HOWDYYC: Meet Jayden Brander

by Calgary Downtown Association


Jayden works out of SORCE which is a multi-agency collaborative that connects individuals and families experiencing or facing homelessness, to programs and services that can help address the barriers to stable housing.

SORCe is located at the City Hall LRT Station, 316 - 7th Avenue SE and is open weekdays from 9:00am - 4:00pm and closed 12:00 - 1:00pm for lunch. Services are offered on a walk-in basis and are free to anyone.

What does your job entail?
I have been the ID Replacement Program Specialist for about two months now.  I used to be a client engagement specialist and then was promoted to this position.  I primarily help homeless or at-risk of homeless individuals who were born in Canada, replace their lost, stolen or expired birth certificates, provincial ID and Alberta Health Care cards.  This can be very daunting at times, especially when they don’t have a whole lot of documents to prove who they are.  I was given the task to develop the program from the bottom up and it proved to be quite a challenge.  The government doesn’t provide training on it anymore.  I did a lot of networking with different agencies to figure out the process and to make it a fit with SORCE policies and align with what we are trying to achieve here.  So far the program is a huge success and is getting a lot of exposure.

Do you communicate in another language?
My primary language is English.  I did study French way back in school so I know a few words of French.  And I did try Spanish.

Who is the most influential person in your life?
That’s a tough one.  To name one person is pretty difficult but I think the person that comes to mind the most for me is probably my grandfather.  He is always putting family first.  Regardless of his health conditions, he is always reaching out to family to make sure everyone is ok.  He recently had to move my gramma to a care facility because she got dementia.  Even though he isn’t the healthiest he still visits her regularly.  He really has been a wonderful influence in my life and I’m lucky to still have him.  Even though he lives in North Battleford, Saskatchewan he is a big part of my life.

If you could say one thing to everyone in Calgary right now, what would you say?
I’d probably say just to stay strong.  It’s obviously difficult to find things that a person would usually do to make them happy right now because of what’s going on in the world but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  If there is anything I have learned in this pandemic it is to focus on the little things, because ultimately that’s what makes us happy and just don’t take anything for granted.

What inspires you in your business?
I think what inspires me is seeing people who have nothing but are willing to give so much to help others.  It’s very inspiring to me because it shows a persons true character when they are willing to help someone even with simple things such as a coffee or a meal.  It doesn’t exist as much as it used to but I do see it at SORCE on a regular basis and that’s why I work here.

What’s the happiest you have ever been?
Skydiving!  That is definitely number one with me.  Also I had the privilege of traveling to Australia and New Zealand from October to December of 2019.  I got to take two months of leave from work and travel internationally for the first time.  I went to Melbourne, Sydney and Cannes in Australia and from there to New Zealand.   We rented a vehicle and drove from the South Island to the North Island.  It was definitely a trip of a lifetime.  I got to travel with my buddy and made tons of memories.  I would go back in a heartbeat and would definitely recommend it to anyone.  I also put all of my travel videos on You Tube.  You can see me screaming falling out of an airplane!

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
I think getting outdoors a little bit more.  I haven’t gone camping in a few years and would really like to try backcountry camping.  I love the mountains and really need to take advantage of them being so close.  

What makes you laugh the most?
We work with an officer here who loves to tell dad jokes. I have to admit it they are hilarious.  Every time we communicate by email he always ends with a joke.  You’ve got to make it fun, especially doing what we do.  I really appreciate his humour and have to admit I see bit of me in him.

What is your favourite thing you can see out your window?
Concrete.  From the window at SORCe we face City Hall.  It had been covered in a tarp for so long but has finally been removed.  It looks beautiful now that we can finally see it.  I would love to have a tour of the building.  Maybe one day.

Is your glass half full or empty?
Definitely half full.  I know it’s tough to stay optimistic but it’s ultimately what we have to do to get through each day.

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