A young man who grew up in the care of Child and Family Services is shedding light on a system he said left him in the dark.

Jordan Harper spent 13 years in CFS.

The last time he saw his mother was the day he was taken at five years old. She died while he was in care.

Harper said he lashed out when his mother died and was kicked out of his stable group home.

He was moved to a hotel where he drank and had run-ins with the law.

“The thinking when you’re in CFS growing up between 13 and 17 for me was survival, day-to-day,” said Harper.

He shared his story at Thunderbird House on Monday night to about 200 people, one of five former CFS kids.

The panel discussion was part of the 25 not 21 campaign.

Campaigners want care and service for CFS kids to max out at 25 years of age instead of 21, a recommendation from the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry.

Dylan Cohen is one of the organizers of the 25 not 21 campaign.

He entered the system when he was 13.

“I really lost my sense of belonging and identity.”

Cohen said he bounced from placement to placement, was separated from his sister and was homeless for a few months.

He said extended care helped him land on his feet.

“I have used it as a mechanism to grow and without it I don’t know where I would be,” said Cohen, who is in his third year at the University of Winnipeg.

Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross attended the discussion and said the province will ensure the panelists’ voices are heard.

The 25 not 21 campaign hopes to make the extension of CFS care and services an election issue in the spring.