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Building a library for the Bosman Hotel Community in Vancouver

May 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Hendrik Beune and April Smith of AHA MEDIA are very happy to help a library with excited Bosman Hotel Community residents of the “At Home/ Chez Soi” project.

With a new library onsite, residents can improve their literacy and life skills through positive peer community engagement. Sharing books and new found knowledge brings friends closer together at the Bosman.

Over 100 people will now have access to books and resources to help enrich and support their lives.

Many thanks to the wonderful support from Angelika Sellick , Literacy Outreach Coordinator of  DTES Adult Literacy Roundtable and Megan Langley of Carnegie Centre Library.

Plans to build the Bosman library started a few months ago and our first donations have begun to arrive.

The official opening of the library is scheduled for Thursday 24 May 2012.

Located in the former Bosman’s Motor Hotel in downtown Vancouver, the Bosman is an important part of the Mental Health Commission’s At Home / Chez Soi initiative – the largest research project of its kind in the world studying mental illness and homelessness. In Vancouver, At Home / Chez Soi is focusing on people who also have substance abuse and addiction issues, and over the next four years will provide housing and support to 300 homeless mentally ill people in the city.

Liz Evans, Executive Director, PHS Community Services Society, said: “The Bosman project offers hope because it embraces the very values our society strives for – one that is inclusive and one that says that every life matters and every individual deserves a chance to be their best self. The Bosman is an exciting start to acknowledging that we can live in a community, in a city and in a country where fellow human beings living with a mental illness do not have to be sleeping on our streets.”

At Home/Chez Soi: Largest research project of its kind in the world

At Home/Chez Soi is a ground‐breaking national research project in five cities -Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto,Montreal and Moncton – to find the best way to provide housing and services to people who are living with mental illness and homelessness. Using a ‘Housing First‘ approach, the research project focuses on first providing people who are homeless with a place to live, and then the other assistance and services they require. The goal is to see if this approach is better than traditional care.

The research will help make Canada a world leader in providing better services to people living with homelessness and mental illness.

For more information on the At Home/Chez Soi project, please visithttp://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/Pages/homelessness.aspx (English)

orhttp://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/Francais/Pages/Litinerance.aspx (French).

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention on mental health issues and to work to improve the health and social outcomes of people living with mental illness.  In February 2008, the federal government allocated $110 million to the MHCC to find ways to help the growing number of people who are homeless and have a mental illness.  For more, visit www.mentalhealthcommission.ca.

The PHS Community Services Society provides affordable, low-barrier supportive housing and services to marginalized people, many of whom suffer from mental illness, physical disabilities and addictions. These services include a supervised injection facility, detoxification and addiction recovery services, an art gallery, life skills training, low threshold employment and banking.

Dr. Peter Ferentzy, PhD Crackhead speaks on Ending Drug Prohibition and Emancipating the Addict – the Last Frontier in a Struggle for Enlightenment in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Peter Ferentzy holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought from York University. His dissertation is a historical sociology of the origins and recent development of the modern concept of addiction with an emphasis on how it has interacted with ideas about mental illness and compulsions in general.

Dr. Ferentzy has studied and written extensively on Gamblers Anonymous, as well as other issues related to pathological gambling. His two most recently completed studies involve: 1.  The history of ideas related to addiction with an emphasis on problem gambling wherein special attention is paid to the role of metaphoric conceptualization in the construction of scientific discourse; 2.  A street level, ethnographic study of gambling patterns among crack users in downtown Toronto. 

Peter Ferentzy is a recovering drunk and a recovering crackhead. He knows this topic from the gutter right up to the halls of academe. After losing two friends to overdose, and seeing clearly that in each case the governing approach to addiction was the cause, Peter wrote Dealing with Addiction — Why the 20th Century was Wrong. Peter wants to change things, and is arrogant enough to believe that he can.

Please see more at Peter’s website and book

Knowledge Exchange on Homelessness and Health in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

November 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Welcome and blessing: Sam George

Dr Stephen Hwang – Research Scientist at the Centre for Research on Innet City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital “Canadian Crisis – the Hidden Cost of Homelessness”

Dr. Anita Palepu – UBC Associate Member, General Internal Medicine

Tom Laviolette – Director of Project Development, PHS Community Services Society

Laura Cowan – Executive Director, Street Health Community Nursing Foundation, Toronto

Michael Shapcott – Wellesley Institute, Toronto

 Sean Spear – Associate Director, RainCity Housing

 Meghan Thumath – Vancouver Coastal Health Clinical Practice Initiatives Lead, HIV/AIDS “Impact on Homelessness on HIV/AIDS and Approaches to Care and Treatment”

 Craig Crawford (Acting) Vice President of Operations, BC Housing

 Dr Bruce MacLaurin – Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, U of C “Preventing Homelessness: Developing the Homelessness Asset & Risk Tool (HART) Bruce MacLaurin on behalf of the HART Research Team”

Wendy Muckle – Executive Director, Ottawa Inner City Health “Understanding What Works – Breaking Down Barriers to Housing and Healthy Living for Women

Liz Evans – Executive Director, PHS Community Services Society “SIS: Fight for Change

Chinese Freemasons and the PHS Community Services Society co-hosted the unveiling ceremony of a plaque to commemorate the 100 anniversary of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s visit to Vancouver as well as his stay at the Pennsylvania Hotel on Friday Oct 7, 2011

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment

The Chinese Freemasons and the PHS Community Services Society co-hosted a ceremony to unveil a plaque to commemorate the 100 anniversary of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s visit to Vancouver and his stay at the Pennsylvania Hotel, originally named the Woods Hotel.

When: Oct 7th (Friday), 2011, 12:00 Noon

Where: Lobby of the Pennsylvania Hotel, 412 Carrall St., Vancouver, BC

Event: Unveiling of the plaque and a reception after.

Chinese Freemasons and the PHS Community Services Society co-host the unveiling ceremony of a plaque to commemorate the 100 anniversary of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s visit to Vancouver as well as his stay at the Pennsylvania Hotel in February 1911. This is also the 100 anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, which ended thousands of years of monarchy rule in China and established the first republic in Asia.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen led the Xinhai Revolution to victory in 1911, the same year he visited Vancouver and he is popularly considered the founding father of modern China.

Chuck Chang Executive (Vice Chairman Chinese Freemasons National Headquarters of Canada): “The Chinese Freemason mortgaged our buildings to help raised tens of thousands of dollars for the revolution. Many of our members also took part in direct action for the course, some sacrificing their lives for the revolution.”

Chuck Chang Executive (Vice Chairman Chinese Freemasons National Headquarters of Canada): “The Chinese Freemason covered the expenses of Dr. Sun’s visit in 1911. We also provided protection to make sure that Dr. Sun’s personal safety was not compromised. One hundred years later, we are still proud of our support to the revolution.”

Dr. Dan Small: “We are proud and honored that Pennsylvania Hotel, formerly known as the Woods Hotel and the Portland Hotel, is connected to such an significant event in human history; and that the Hotel hosted such an important person as Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the founding father of modern China and the first president of China.”

Dr. Dan Small: “The core belief of the PHS Community Services Society is to support progressive social changes and to promote tolerance of people with diversity of lifestyle and ideas, whether or not such ideas are popular at the current time or not.”

Dr. Dan Small: “We treasure this special and historical link between Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and the Pennsylvania Hotel. We also treasure this special and historical link between the Chinese community and the PHS Community Services Society.”

BACKGROUNDER: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen played a key and leading role in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution that toppled the Qing Dynasty in China, ending monarchy rule that has lasted for thousands of years in the China and established the first republic in Asia.

The revolution commenced with an army uprising in the city of Wuchang in central China on Oct 10th, 1911.

In the same year, in 1911, believed from February 6th to the 18th, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen spent about two weeks in Vancouver. Dr. Sun was a guest of the Chinese Freemason and stayed at Woods Hotel, now the Pennsylvania Hotel, dodging assassination attempts from his adversaries while conducting an uprising in Southern China.

The Chinese Freemason hosted Dr. Sun’s visit in 1911 and help raise tens of thousands of dollars for the revolution, mortgaging their buildings to raise the crucial funds.

According to the recollection of the Chinese Freemason, they paid a total of $97.30 to settle Dr. Sun’s hotel bill, as well as $195.40 for Dr. Sun’s telegraph expenses.

One of the core operations of the PHS Community Services Society is providing housing accommodation to clients with special needs. And the first such housing projects for the PHS was the Portland Hotel, formerly called the Woods Hotel where Dr. Sun Yat-Sen stayed 100 years ago.

Below are videos of  Dr. Sun Yat-Sen ‘s Plaque unveiling at Pennsylvania Hotel in Vancouver

 

AHA MEDIA recently had the great pleasure of witnessing the unveiling of a very special little piece of Vancouver’s amazing history.

In 1911, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen visited Vancouver to raise support for the revolution happening in China. He came to Vancouver and stayed in the Pennsylvania Hotel in our own DTES, welcomed warmly by the Chinese Freemasons society of Vancouver and protected by them as agents had followed him from China to Vancouver and were intent on stopping him.

100 years later, the Portland Hotel Society welcomed us all to the recently renovated Pennsylvania Hotel to witness the unveiling of a beautiful plaque commemorating the good Dr’s visit.

There were many representatives from the city of Vancouver including Councillor Kerry Jang, Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, Andrea Reimer and Sarah Blyth. MLA Jenny Kwan who gave a stirring speech in both English and Chinese to the crowd.

Members of the Chinese Freemasons, people from the Portland Hotel Society, as well as Chinese senior citizens from Chinatown were all present to see the grand unveiling of the plaque.

Afterwards, we adjourned to the Calabash Bistro to enjoy traditional Caribbean food and each other’s company on this momentous historic day!

Historical Day of Legal Victory for InSite! Supreme Court of Canada allows InSite to stay Open in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Historical Day for InSite! Supreme Court of Canada allows InSite to stay Open in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

“WE WON!!!!”

Friday Sept 30, 2011 at Insite; 6:30am – Be among the first to hear the results of the Supreme Court Ruling in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES)

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Join us this Friday, 6:30am, at Insite; Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site, at 139 East Hastings St. to be among the first to hear the results of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Decision regarding Insite.

Coffee and Muffins will be on-hand, as it will be an early morning. Try to come by on your way to work.

In our neighbourhood, a small but unique project called Insite, exists. It is the result of the incredible efforts of many people in our community and in our City, and in our Province. Many individuals, groups, academics and researchers who have come together and fought for it to exist, and fought for its continued existence, for over a decade now.

This isn’t just about a building or an initiative in the Downtown Eastside. It’s about systemic and National change in our approach to people who suffer from addiction.

This Friday morning, a enormous decision will be announced determining whether or not Insite can stay open, indicating the direction our Country is heading in, in terms of the future for people living with addiction.

On May 12th 2011, the Canadian Supreme Court heard the Federal Government appeal of the previous BC Supreme Court rulings that Insite is protected under section 7 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Province of BC’s constitutional jurisdiction over health care, in supporting this vital primary health care facility.

Up until now, we have said that our country has no room for people struggling with life as an active addict. People who suffer intense pain, who have been branded as criminals, due to the arbitrary distinction made between addictive substances such as alcohol and cigarettes, or cocaine and heroin.

This group of people, to whom we are all connected – are our family members, our friends, and our loved ones and our neighbours. They are currently treated like animals, and can die as a result of being  “thrown out”.

We have collectively told them, that unless you are clean…. Your life does not matter. You will be denied housing and services.  It’s OK if you die of a drug overdose, it’s OK if you get an infectious disease, it’s OK if you live on the street, get beaten up, get HIV or hepatitis C, or go to jail.

This is our humanistic Canadian Society.  For the drug addict, it is anything but humane.

I believe in 30 years we will look back in disbelief at the lack of wisdom we have shown in our policies surrounding some of our Society’s most fragile and sick individuals who are not accessing proper treatment, dignity or care.

Insite is only one very tiny piece of what’s needed to put the puzzle into place, but it is an icon of real systemic change. Insite communicates the message to the drug user that your life is worth saving and that your life is worth living.  That we believe in you as a human being, in spite of the fact that you are injecting drugs into your body.

It is a symbol of hope for our collective humanity.

If Insite wins this Supreme Court ruling we will be sending a message of hope to thousands of people across the country to say that we care about them. We care enough to keep them alive, to bring them in off the streets, to provide them with access to nursing supports, access to treatment and detox, and life saving interventions. Insite saves people’s lives and connects them into a mainstream array of supports and care.

This will be a victory for all of us as Canadians, and it will signal a new direction for our Country, by turning against the simplistic paradigms of the past that have convinced so many that quitting an addiction is just as simple as saying No. Not only has this belief led to enormous suffering, it has misinformed policy, and allowed politicians to avoid making the right decisions. People who live addicted to illicit substances are people.

If we lose this fight, Insite will be none-the-less relevant. We will continue to call upon the Federal Government of this country, who just need to provide a simple letter to keep it open…We will ask our Prime Minister, and our Federal Minister of Health, to grant an exemption for Insite – We will ask that they listen to the millions of dollars worth of scientific evidence, the local experts, the merchants, the doctors, the nurses and the people of Vancouver and British Columbia, including the Premier of British Columbia and the past five Mayors of Vancouver representing every political stripe, to allow Insite’s life saving work to continue.

To quote Dean Wilson, one of the plaintiffs in the original BC Supreme Court case. “Insite will not be closed. Insite, as well as the comprehensive Onsite treatment program that includes the 30 recovery beds on the two floors above Insite, have both saved my life and put me on the path to recovery. There is no way that myself and the thousands of members of my community are going to let the positive impact of this facility end.”

A broad based coalition of community members including church groups, doctors and nurses, local merchants and civic and provincial officials will attempt to contact Stephen Harper to make certain he is aware of the literal life-and-death consequences of the action before him.

In the event that the Supreme Court rule against Insite, “Stephen Harper will have an important choice before him,” said fellow plaintiff Shelly Tomic. “He can choose life – or he can choose death for thousands of Canadians suffering while struggling to overcome their addiction.”

You are welcome to pop by this Friday morning, to await the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, which we will have via a live link.

Liz Evans
Executive Director
PHS Community Services Society

April Smith and Hendrik Beune of AHA MEDIA are very proud to attend SFU – Simon Fraser University’s Literacy Lives: Certificate for Community Capacity Building

September 29, 2011 1 comment

Our Certificate in Community Capacity Building  Skills for Strengthening community health is part of  Literacy Lives: An Integrative Model for Applied Community-based Literacy in inner-city Environments

This pilot program is designed for learners who are passionate about creating positive community change in the area of HIV and community health. Learners will strengthen their essential skills and knowledge about community building while working with a cohort of other community members to choose, design, implement and evaluate a community project. The program’s design recognizes the strength and value of diverse learning styles and experiences, and places an emphasis on experiential and authentic learning opportunities.

Our curriculum for the program is made up of three core pieces:

  1. HIV and social determinants of health;
  2. literacy and essential skills; and
  3. the theory and practice of community capacity building.

Learning will happen within the context of community-based work: learners will identify, plan, implement and evaluate community projects that address key needs in their communities, and that capture something they feel passionate about.

Within the Literacy Lives project, community projects will be focused on HIV and social determinants of health.

The Certificate in Community Capacity Building is a pilot program designed for learners who are passionate about creating positive community change in the area of HIV and community health

We are excited about the following during our University experience!

Learners in the program will:

Make a positive difference in their communities.

Learn more of the essential skills and tools needed to effect positive change.

Learn more about HIV and community health.

Learners who complete the 26-week program will earn a Certificate in Community Capacity Building and become an alumnus of Simon Fraser University.

Hendrik with our AMAZING instructor Jo!

In the next photo and video, Liz Evans of PHS speaks to our class on the history of PHS, and its community capacity building, peer training and skill building, housing, and activism with InSite in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES)

We gratefully thank Frank, our community coordinator and PHS for their support and encouragement while attending this excellent program at SFU! :)

PHS Community Services Society

phs-200x151

PHS Community Services is a non-profit organization providing: transitional housing, supportive housing, 24-hour service, health services, complementary therapy, and harm reduction.

PHS’s mandate is to promote, develop and maintain supportive affordable housing for adult individuals who are hard to house and at risk of homelessness due to their physical and/or mental health, behaviour, substance dependencies, and forensic history.

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