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Grand Opening of Skwachàys Residence and Healing Lodge in Vancouver

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Affordable homes with Aboriginal supports open in Vancouver

VANCOUVER — Skwachàys Healing Lodge has officially opened to provide affordable housing for thosewho are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, as well as healing lodge apartments for Aboriginal individuals travelling to Vancouver for medical treatment.

“Our government is proud to invest in this important community infrastructure project that will have a positive impact on the lives of Aboriginal people and their families,” said the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. “We will continue to support initiatives like this to strengthen communities, help protect those most vulnerable and promote the health, safety and well-being of Aboriginal people and all Canadians.”

“The Province is working in partnership with other levels of government and communities to help end homelessness and to create housing that helps people move off the streets permanently,” said Rich Coleman, British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Housing. “This new building is now a safe home for 24 individuals and will provide interim housing for people seeking medical treatment.”

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.

The building, located at 31 W. Pender St. in Vancouver, is on the site of the former Pender Hotel, one of 24 single-room occupancy hotels the Province purchased in Vancouver to preserve existing housing stock. The hotel was demolished with care to preserve the heritage façade of the original building.

Funding for Skwachàys Healing Lodge comes from a variety of sources. Federal funding includes $2.7 million under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund as well as $451,500 through the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Province of British Columbia provided a $4.32-million grant, as well as land equity valued at approximately $2.8 million.

The City of Vancouver provided $490,000 and has waived development cost charges valued at approximately $156,000. Vancouver Native Housing Society is fundraising and contributing in kind funds of $261,000 and will be financing the remaining capital budget.

“Collaborative projects like the Skwachàys Healing Lodge demonstrate the remarkable progress that can be achieved to tackle homelessness when the community and all levels of government come together in creative partnerships,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson, City of Vancouver. “Vancouver’s population is only three per cent Aboriginal, but the 2012 Vancouver homeless count recently confirmed that over 30 per cent of Vancouver’s homeless population is of Aboriginal heritage. This important project helps to address the urgent need for new affordable housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in a manner that supports Aboriginal peoples and embraces their rich cultural traditions.”

“The Skwachàys name was given to the building by Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation. It reflects the traditional name for this area, which Chief Campbell referred to as a place of transformation.” said David Eddy, CEO of the Vancouver Native Housing Society. “We placed a traditional longhouse – the first longhouse built in downtown Vancouver since before contact – on top of the building for use as a healing lodge. The longhouse and 40.5-foot story pole make a unique statement of the value and importance of the first peoples that have inhabited this area for millennia. It will not only provide appropriate housing and services to those without a home, but it will also provide affordable, culturally appropriate housing for Aboriginal people travelling to Vancouver for health care during a time when they may be vulnerable and in need of support.”

Vancouver Native Housing Society manages and operates Skwachàys Healing Lodge and the adjacent site located at 27 W. Pender St., which provides 98 affordable apartments. For 20 years, the society has been dedicated to providing housing for the urban Aboriginal community. They also provide programs that enrich the lives of their tenants and others in the community.

Opening of W2 Media Cafe in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES) on Wed Sept 21, 2011

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Sid Tan of W2TV writes:

September 21, 2011 is a memorable day. A diverse gathering celebrated the official opening of W2 Media Cafe and the Concrete Park music and break dance sessions.

Many thanks for entertainment to The Hastings Set who provided the music and the Hip Hop and B-Boys breakdancers. Also many thanks to the W2 volunteers, board and staff.

Mayor Gregor Robertson cut the ribbon. Also in attendance were  Councillors Ellen Woodsworth, Heather Deal and Andrea Reimer, developer Ian Gillespie and architect Gregory Henriqez. First Nation welcome by ethnobotanist/media artist Cease Wyss while Magnus Thyvold represented the W2 board while Irwin Oostindie was MC.

Below is a video by Sid Tan

Below are videos and photos from AHA MEDIA

AHA MEDIA at Year of the Rabbit – 2011 Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown, Vancouver

February 6, 2011 Leave a comment

AHA MEDIA at Year of the Rabbit – 2011 Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown, Vancouver

Happy New Year!

Below is a photo of Hedy Fry

Below are photos of Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver

Below is a photo of Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang

 

AHA MEDIA at “Vancouver Street Soccer League vs City Hall” Soccer Tournament in Vancouver

December 7, 2010 1 comment

The Vancouver Street Soccer League Takes on City Hall

In a series of classic confrontations, Vancouver Street Soccer League (www.vancouverstreetsoccer.com) teams tested their skills not only against each other, but also against a City of Vancouver team lead by Mayor Gregor Robertson on Saturday, December 4 at Memorial South Park.

Many people contributed to the organization of the tournament and even Mother Nature chipped in by giving us a beautiful sunny day. Malcolm Bromley and the Park Board had an amazing new turf field for us to Christen with some soccer magic. Continuing their strong support of Street Soccer, the Portland Hotel Society provided tents, heaters, food and other pieces of the puzzle through our great PHS-based volunteers, including Kailin See and Sarah Blyth who had lead organizational roles. Snacks and drinks were generously provided by the Vancouver Food Bank. Andrea Reimer, Sarah Blyth, and Amy and Gregor Robertson recruited a strong team for the City. Ex-Vancouver Dream Catcher turned AHA Media reporter Peter Davies and Vancouver International Soccer Festival President Adri Hamael were quick to answer the call and then make all the right ones as referees. We also felt the love of Street Soccer friends across the country as everyone received a Street Soccer Canada toque from Paul Gregory and Wendy Perkins at SSC headquarters in Ontario. The live music by Good for Grapes completed the atmosphere, and Kurt Heinrich ensured the event got the attention of the city by once again attracting prominent media coverage (http://www.ctvbc.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20080124/BC_Vid_Newscast_080124/20091203?hub=BritishColumbiaHome ; pick the broadcast from Dec. 4 and advance to the 7-minute mark). As usual, the comprehensive account was also recorded by April Smith at AHA Media.

As hosts of the tournament, Portland FC (www.portlandfc.ca) setup camp on Field 1 for the duration. Team Canada veterans and new recruits alike made sure that points weren’t easily gained by the competition. Randy showed moments of goaltending brilliance reminiscent of his all-star performance against Mexico at the Homeless World Cup, while Hector, Rik, Frank, Sid, Peter and Patrick put on a passing display that was tastier than Prime Time Chicken.

Like the Montreal Canadiens of Vancouver Street Soccer, the Eastside Sun Eagles brought their proven formula of intensity and reliable play to the tournament. Playing coach Lotfi and Team Canada penalty-shot expert Robert lead usual suspects Virgil, Hudson, Saul, Carlos, Bryan, and Shamaly in a relentless attack that gave Mayor Robertson a loss to revisit in his mind through slow moments in Council Chambers over the coming months. Keeper Hector was stingier than Ebenezer Scrooge, allowing only a single goal the whole tournament.

Since steamrolling the competition in their Street Soccer debut in the February, 2010 Going For Gold tournament, the Aboriginal Friendship Centre has consistently raised the bar of competition for the other VSSL teams. Saturday was no exception as Mel, Shane, Dennis, Quoc, Jerry, Jake, Aaron, Joseph, Conrad, Dude, Ted, Enrique, and playing coach Brian rolled shift after skill-laden shift in a system that Alain Vigneault would have been proud of. With small nets making goals hard to come by, Brian and Enrique impressed by each rippling the mesh and then providing an encore.

Like a series of election night nail biters, the City team, bolstered by VSSL volunteers, squeaked out a collection of close victories, but couldn’t beat the eventual tournament champions. The one – nil win over Portland FC must have been sweet redemption for the now legendary 6-5 Portland FC triumph over the Mayor and City Council 11-aside in the teams’ only previous meeting. Street Soccer fans everywhere are already debating the likely outcome of a balance-tipping third game. Mayor Robertson delighted the populace with game-winning goal. Not to be outdone, and possibly a signal that he intends to run for office himself, Diego lead the way with three match-deciding markers. Chris, Zoran, Kurt, Barry, Adrian, Ron, and Andy provided a supporting cast with more style than City Hall’s art deco relief.

By all accounts, the favourites of the tournament were Portland FC Phoenix. Not intimidated by the greatest collection of Street Soccer talent ever accumulated in Vancouver, the VSSL’s first all women’s team stepped up and rolled out an inspired brand of football. In one close game after another, Phoenix averaged less than two goals against per game. A slim one to nothing scoreline was all that separated Phoenix from the Mayor’s team and their male Portland FC counterparts could also only manage one tally against them. Keeper and City Councilor Andrea Reimer served early and frequent notice that unwanted guests weren’t welcome in her goal crease. Amy and Carla showed the poise of experienced veterans, while Sarah, Kailin, and Heather proved quick studies from their time practicing with Portland FC. Christa (“iano Ronaldo”) revealed step-over moves that will be dancing in the heads of more than a couple defensemen this holiday season. Meanwhile, Paula had something to teach Ryan Kesler about being an effective two-way player by establishing a formidable presence at both ends of the field. Kayla, Claire, Tracy, Tanya and the rest of the team must have been fired up by Lauren’s surprisingly effective battle cry as they brought the fight to the guys match after match.

In the end, there could only be one winner and on this day, the North Shore Shields would not be denied. The mountain men from the other side of the water went undefeated through all five games. Only the Sun Eagles managed to avoid a loss to the Shields by clinging to a zero – zero draw. A true sign of a dynasty team is even scoring throughout the roster, and with Steve, Trevor, James, Fred, Ramin, and Alex all putting up numbers in the goal column, the Shields could be the team to beat for the foreseeable future. However, the 2-1 victory over Portland FC must have been bittersweet for Steve, Trevor, and James who were on loan from the home side. Only time will tell if a return of their services will brighten Portland FC’s fortune in the next tournament. Masoud, Mori and Nathan were solid when called upon and coach Dave did his best Sir Alex Ferguson impression to guide his team through five impressive results.

The next VSSL action takes place January 8, 2011 in North Vancouver as the North Shore Shields and the VSSL host the Kelowna Kodiaks. Will the newcomers from the Okanagan be easy pickings or craftier than the Ogopogo? Stay tuned.

Alan Bates

President, Vancouver Street Soccer League

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHA MEDIA at Sox in the City 2010 launch at Vancouver City Hall

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Tenth year of Sox in the City celebrated today at Vancouver City Hall!

Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), in partnership with PHS Community Services launched the annual Sox in the City campaign today at Vancouver City Hall. The campaign which is celebrating its 10 year, gathers and distributes new or gently used socks to people  in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, VCH’s Betheny Jeal, PHS Community Services Society’s Liz Evans and London Drugs’ Dave Woogman kicked off the 2010 Sox in the City Campaign.

“The Sox in the City campaign is an important addition to the other initiatives underway in Vancouver to help people who are homeless,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City is now opening temporary winter shelter and the people at those shelters and on the street will benefit greatly from new socks and other cold weather necessities”

Warm dry feet are a must for the many homeless people in Vancouver who walk as many as 20 miles every day in ill-fitting shoes and no socks.  Even a small blister can trigger serious blood and bone infections that can lead to long hospital stays.  These ailments can be prevented with a pair of clean dry socks.

“Something as simple as pair of clean, dry socks can ward off a wide range of health problems, especially for people with diabetes or those battling serious infections” said Bethany Jeal, Clinical Coordinator, VCH. “Socks are not an accessory items for many residents of the Downtown Eastside – they are a necessity.  Without them, people can develop sores, lesions and other wounds that are tough to heal and, in some cases, can result in death”

The socks collected this year will be distributed by the PHS LifeSkills Centre, a member-run community and support centre located in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, which will use the socks in its foot health program.

“The gift of a clean new pair of socks on a wet winter day goes a long way,” said PHS LifeSkills Project Director Coco Culbertson.  “It’s not just a critical health intervention, it’s also an opportunity to engage these folks in a hot meal, a foot soak, and friendly conversation which, in turn, could lead them to additional support, such as housing.”

Typically a clean, new pair of socks will last a homeless person just three days. In order to address this critical need, the 2010 campaign goal is to collect 20,000 socks for distribution.

This year’s Sox in the City campaign has the full support of London Drugs.

“London Drugs is thrilled to be participating in the Sox in the City Campaign, ” said Wynne Powell, president and CEO of London Drugs. “To help kick-start the campaign, London Drugs is donating 1,000 pairs of socks and we are also offering a 5-pack ladies socks for $1 at all of our Vancouver London Drugs stores.”

Vancouver City Hall and the Vancouver Police Department are also supporting the campaign by hosting SoxBoxes.

To donate socks, please drop off new or gently used (ideally white cotton adult sports-type socks) in the big red SoxBoxes at the following locations:

All Vancouver London Drugs stores:

  • Georgia & Granville: 710 Granville Street
  • Broadway & Cambie: 525 West Broadway
  • East Hastings: 2585 East Hastings
  • Kerrisdale: 2091 West 42nd Ave
  • Robson: 1187 Robson Street
  • Kingsway: 3328 Kingsway
  • Davie Street: 1650 Davie Street
  • Victoria Square: 5639 Victoria Drive
  • Broadway & Vine: 2230 West Broadway
  • Woodwards: 351 Abbott Street

Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12 Avenue

Grandview-Woodland Policing Centre 1977 Commercial Drive

For more information on Sox in the City, and to find out how you or your organization can donate socks, please visit http://www.vch.ca and click on the Sox in the City icon.

Sox in the City runs until January 31, 2011

Below is Mirae, Shawn, Tony and Rocky D of LifeSkills Centre who would appreciate some clean, dry socks from Sox in the City

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