Skwachays Healing Lodge in the media

Healing lodge opens after lots of work and some luck – Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, June 12

A decade-old dream of the Vancouver Native Housing Society came true Monday with the opening of a healing lodge where out-of-town aboriginal patients can stay during medical treatment in the city. The Skwachays Healing Lodge at 31 West Pender also provides 24 apartments for people at risk of homelessness. Monday’s opening ceremony can be traced back to a trip the society’s CEO, David Eddy, made to Toronto in 2002. He saw an 18-unit healing lodge in a restored mansion that incorporated cultural aspects such as a sweat lodge and smudge room. “I thought, ‘That’s a cool idea. That’s something we have need of,'” he said. A survey of 20 bands across B.C. confirmed the need for a place for aboriginal patients and their families to stay during medical care, particularly addiction treatment.

Coleman announces housing for FN’s people on DTES – CTV News at Noon, Monday, June 11

Keri Adams: An official opening on Vancouver’s downtown eastside today, new housing and a native healing centre for First Nations groups. It’s for aboriginal people from around the province who have to travel to Vancouver for medical treatment. The centre will include some gathering places inspired by native traditions that could accommodate a range of services including healing circles. Rich Coleman: We’re proud to have put $4.3m into this project and also to give the value of the building and the land to the project as well, about $2.8m. It really doesn’t… it’s not about dollars and cents. It’s about the 24 affordable apartments for people who are homeless or risk of homelessness in the city.
Adams: The centre will also have an art gallery and workshop display and sell native art.

Aboriginal healing lodge opens – CBC News Vancouver, Monday, June 11

A new healing lodge aimed at addressing homelessness, mental health issues and addiction among First Nations opened today in Vancouver. Residents comment.
Video: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Canada/BC/1258521056/ID=2244802470

Skwachàys Healing Lodge and Urban Aboriginal Gallery opens on Pender – vancouverisawesome.ca, Monday, June 11

If you’ve been wondering what this incredible piece of architecture at 31 West Pender is then wonder no more: It’s the Skwachàys Healing Lodge! The recently completed housing development “provides 24 affordable housing apartments for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The building also provides 18 healing lodge apartments for Aboriginal individuals and their immediate family who need to travel to Vancouver from rural and remote communities for medical services. The building also includes a commercial kitchen, an art gallery and a basement workshop as well as culturally-appropriate services, such as a sweat lodge and smudge room, which provide space for spiritual cleansing and healing.” This project was the result of investments from the federal government, the provincial government as well as the City of Vancouver. THAT is awesome. What’s also great is that not only will this benefit aboriginal peoples but all residents of Vancouver, as the gallery is free and open to the public 8AM to 6PM, 7 days a week! Talking with Richard George, the president of the Vancouver Native Housing Society, he told me that the aforementioned “basement workshop” will be used by residents of the development who will then be able to sell their works in the gallery. Prints, originals, sculpture, carvings, masks and blankets are all currently on display and I encourage you to go down and check them out! This is a fantastic addition to the neighbourhood and as it’s only 3 blocks from the V.I.A. office we would like to issue a hearty welcome to our new neighbours!

Healing lodge opens in DTES – 24 Hours Newsmagazine, Tuesday, June 12

A new housing project opened yesterday at 31 W. Pender St. in the Downtown Eastside, providing 24 affordable housing apartments for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The Skwachays Healing Lodge also includes 18 apartments intended for rural aboriginals seeking medical attention.

Healing lodge opens after lots of work and some luck – Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, June 12

A decade-old dream of the Vancouver Native Housing Society came true Monday with
the opening of a healing lodge where out-of-town aboriginal patients can stay during
medical treatment in the city.

The Skwachays Healing Lodge at 31 West Pender also provides 24 apartments for people
at risk of homelessness.

Monday’s opening ceremony can be traced back to a trip the society’s CEO, David Eddy,
made to Toronto in 2002. He saw an 18-unit healing lodge in a restored mansion that
incorporated cultural aspects such as a sweat lodge and smudge room.

“I thought, ‘That’s a cool idea. That’s something we have need of,'” he said.

A survey of 20 bands across B.C. confirmed the need for a place for aboriginal patients
and their families to stay during medical care, particularly addiction treatment.

All Randy Gisla needed was a home. He was sleeping at a shelter until he moved into a
Skwachays apartment last Friday. The building’s ground floor features an art gallery with
images, masks, blankets and other works by artists from across B.C. and Yukon. Bringing
together affordable housing and artistic opportunity was a perfect fit for Gisla.

“I went to the Native Friend-ship Centre to do some drumming and some singing,” Gisla
said. “I ran into some friends and they said, ‘Hey, they’re looking for artists. You’re
homeless, you need a place to stay. There’s a gallery downstairs and a sweat lodge
upstairs.’ I said, ‘No way!’ It’s like a dream come true.”

Gisla described himself as a jewelry designer, a “starving, carving kind of guy.”

“I’ll tell you the thing,” he said.

“I woke up this morning and I felt so grateful, grateful for my life and the energy and
every-thing that I feel here.”

The healing lodge was built behind the heritage facade of the Pender Hotel, one of 24
single-room occupancy hotels bought by the provincial government in 2007 and 2008.

“We bought this building and we thought we could renovate it,” said Rich Coleman,
minister responsible for housing, who attended the opening ceremony.

“But it was one of the ones we bought that really wasn’t in a position to be renovated. So
what do you do with it?”

Eddy had been collaborating on his healing lodge idea with Joe Wai, an architect with a
lengthy track record of working with community groups in the neighbourhood.

Wai got a phone call from NDP MP Libby Davies, who had been told by Conservative
cabinet minister John Baird that he was looking for a “shovel-ready” project located in
the Downtown Eastside as part of the federal stimulus program.

“There’s a lot of serendipity with this building,” Eddy said.

“Libby called Joe and yes, bingo! It’s one of those New Age meant-to-happen things, if
you believe in that stuff.”

The federal government provided $2.7 million through the stimulus program and

$451,500 in cultural grants.

The province contributed the land and $4.32 million. The city put in $646,000 in cash and
waived fees.

Overall, the society received $8.5 million in funding for the $10.5 million project.

The Skwachays Healing Lodge provides space for 18 patients and their families, as well
as two dozen 320-square-foot studio apartments to be rented out at $375 per month and
managed by the Vancouver Native Housing Society.

Skwachays refers to the spring waters that once ran in the area before the arrival of
European settlers, springs that were seen as a portal to the spirit world, according
to Squamish Nation Chief Ian Campbell, who greeted Cole-man and Mayor Gregor
Robertson Monday.

Robertson gave an upbeat speech, but pointed out that the need for the building “stems
from a lot of tragedy.”

While only three per cent of the city’s overall population is aboriginal, Robertson said,
roughly a third of the homeless population has an aboriginal background.