On Nov. 6, First United marked a significant milestone in our redevelopment project at 320 E. Hastings — the start of foundation work for our new building. On that day, we were joined on site by over 70 witnesses for a ground blessing and copper plate burial ceremony led by Musqueam Elder Shane Pointe.
The project is an important part of our commitment to putting reconciliation in action by centring reconciliation in our work, our organizational learning, and in the spaces we create.
If you’re also working to put reconciliation into action, we’d love to help by adding a few more Indigenous voices to your library.
As a low-barrier social service provider in the Downtown Eastside, we know that the legacies of colonization, generational trauma and ongoing institutional racism are deeply felt in this neighbourhood.
That’s why we’re working directly with Indigenous designers, artists and consultants to incorporate Indigenous art and cultural elements into the interior and exterior design of our new building in respectful and appropriate ways. We’re also ensuring that program spaces, like the interfaith sacred space and the outdoor deck, are suitable and welcoming for traditional Indigenous ceremonies.
The new First United will be a four-floor, 40,000 square foot facility purpose-built for our work and the needs of the community. We need to raise $37 million, entirely through donations, and we have approximately $9.4 million left to raise through our First Forward Building Connections Campaign.
Instead of naming opportunities, donors can offer dedications for spaces that will be named after the Indigenous and spiritual roots of the land and Indigenous leaders. This is one of the most progressive naming policies undertaken in Vancouver that puts reconciliation front and centre in the fundraising and philanthropic space.
We’ve also leased our air parcels and are collaborating with all three levels of government to enable the development of an additional seven floors (103 units) of below-market housing for Indigenous people to be constructed on site. Those floors will be operated by our housing partner, Lu’ma Native Housing Society, and tenants will have access to all First United services and amenities.
Reconciliation is an ongoing process, and our new building is just one part of a much larger journey of learning, action and advocacy.
If you’re ready to start — or continue — your personal journey along the path of truth and reconciliation, we’d like to support you.
Enter below to win a selection of books drawn from our Truth and Reconciliation booklist, which features seven titles addressing the topics of residential schools, missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Two-spirit and Indigiqueer issues, and more.
The seven books in this package, spanning a range of genres, are:
Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection (Vol. 2)
Edited by Hope Nicholson
Five Little Indians
By Michelle Good
21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act
By Bob Joseph
My Name Is Seepeetza
By Shirley Sterling and Tomson Highway
Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction
Edited by Joshua Whitehead
Books will be available for pick-up or drop-off in Vancouver or can be mailed via Canada Post to locations within British Columbia.
Enter to win below.
First United provides essential community services, advocacy and healing in the face of the often-intersecting challenges of extreme poverty, historical and personal trauma, mental illness, addiction and oppression in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Responding directly to community needs, our inclusive, low-barrier services strive to offer dignity, create belonging and seek justice.
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