As a signatory to the Canadian Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action on Truth and Reconciliation, Central City Foundation is committed to sharing networks and resources, and building relationships with Indigenous communities to create a greater understanding of Canada’s first people.
With the generous support of our donors, CCF has had a long history of funding and providing subsidized community space for excellent organizations supporting Indigenous people in Vancouver’s inner city, including Vancouver Native Health Society at the Phil Bouvier Family Centre, the Aboriginal Mothers Centre, Urban Native Youth Association, BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, and Vancouver Native Housing Society.
On June 24th, CCF donors showed their support of community partner, Vancouver Native Housing Society, by funding a demonstration of the society’s proposed Kanata Project at Larwill Park.
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Confederation in Canada next year, the Kanata Project seeks to further educate Indigenous and non-Indigenous people about life in Canada pre-contact by taking over Larwill Park – which functions as a parking lot – and building several housing structures in the style of First Nations across the county. Similar housing demonstration projects are being planned for 9 other communities across Canada as part of the Kanata Project.
To illustrate the scope of the larger Kanata Project, the demonstration in June exhibited three of the proposed seven different traditional First Nation’s housing structures, including a tipi, wikiup and Iroquois longhouse. The structures and their material were honoured by Aboriginal healer, Old Hands, in a small blessing ceremony.
“Because we are a housing society, we wanted to look through the lens of a housing provider and educate the public on how people used to live before European contact,” said Dave Eddy, Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Native Housing Society. “Education is the most important piece of healing and reconciliation.”
The full project plans to feature a Northwestern Longhouse, Wikiup, Plank House, Eastern Longhouse, Tule Mat Lodge and, potentially, an Arctic Igloo. It will be open to the public for 17 days in summer 2017 and will also include Aboriginal storytelling, drum circles, walking tours and traditional arts and crafts.
The Society hopes to expand the project more permanently across Canada. The iconic housing structures can become a focal point for community celebrations as housing has been and always will be the foundation of strong and healthy communities.
“In Canada, we have a multitude of different nations living in one land, and projects like this help build understanding,” said Old Hands, Aboriginal Healer. “It’s very important for Indigenous people to be able to see these houses because it reminds them of who they are and where they come from.”
Central City Foundation donors provided a grant in 2014 to Vancouver Native Housing Society for Skwachàys Lodge and the Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery, to help with major renovation of the hotel portion of the Lodge, a project employing Aboriginal artists and tradespeople, to upgrade the gallery and improve a workshop space for the artists as well as improving the ceremonial space that includes a sweat lodge on an upper floor of the hotel.