'We're just people too': N.S. comic book shop offers safe space for customers in need
LOWER SACKVILLE, N.S. -- For many young people, a comic book store is a fun place to be, but one Nova Scotia shop owner is also working hard to ensure his store is a safe space for customers too.
When Jay Aaron Roy opened Cape and Cowl Comics in Lower Sackville, N.S., he also had a vision of helping at-risk youth at a location where they might already be.
“This is a way where we can meet people where they’re at, which is very much what my mom raised me, with that sort of philosophy,” says the transgender business owner.
In addition to his store, Roy created a drop-in area for the LGBTQ+ community. The space has also grown to include other helpful intervention opportunities for people in need in the community.
“I’ve had lovely partnerships, and continue to, with Autism Nova Scotia,” says Roy. “Kerry Rain from the Nova Scotia Health Authority comes and she counsels kids on Thursday.”
As someone who is transgender, Roy says his goal was to try and create a spot that would have benefitted him as a child.
“Thanks to my mom I turned out OK, but my mom created a small business in Fall River and -- I know this now, I didn’t know this then -- but I was being bullied in school and it was a way where she could have a business and also watch and cater a business where maybe some of my bullies were,” he says.
“I thought the comic book shop would be an ideal location for individuals to come without any sort of stress or anxiety,” says counsellor Gary Owen Porter. “Come into a space as colourful and vibrant as this and feel they could kind of ease in. It’s also nice to have something as integrated into the community so there’s not this sort of separation.”
The strategy appears to be working; the store will move to a larger location next month, allowing the drop-in area to grow.
“I think I’ve helped a lot of people, to be perfectly frank, to understand we’re just people too,” says Roy.