Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is a community that struggles with deep poverty and homelessness, substance use disorder, a toxic drug supply, discrimination, and racism, among other challenges. For Indigenous residents of the Downtown Eastside, these challenges of systemic poverty and oppression are amplified by the impact colonialism and residential schools have had on their lives. Culturally safe, trauma-informed care is needed to support community members in healing
Located on unceded Xʷməθkwəyəm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), & Səlílwətaʔ (Tsleil–Waututh) lands in the Downtown Eastside, First United has answered the call for healing in their neighbourhood by making an Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain available to the community.
Here is a short description of the Chaplain’s work, taken from First United’s report on Gifts with Vision.
The Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain (ISCC) brings spiritual care to all community members seeking care in many forms: through smudging, beading, and other arts-based practices. Sitting with community members to hear their stories and deeply listen, the Chaplain's role is to provide a place for folks to be seen and heard, to celebrate milestones, and express autonomy. She also performs memorial services for those who have been lost in the community and supports individuals through their process of grief.
As an Indigenous person, the Chaplain brings indigeneity into her practice through medicines and ceremony with community members and represents FIRST UNITED at community events and on culturally significant days like the Downtown Eastside Women’s Memorial March, Orange Shirt Day, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and more. The Chaplain weaves decolonization and education into community ministry activities like interactive Advent and Lent calendars where members of the public can learn and grow alongside us and the people we serve in the Downtown Eastside. This work is important for the folks who call the Downtown Eastside home as well as those who support the work as staff, volunteers, and donors, and members of Communities of Faith.
More than 160 gifts have been given in 2022–2023 through Gifts with Vision to help provide culturally safe spiritual care services developed and delivered by Indigenous people. As First United’s report also tells us, “The [Downtown Eastside] neighbourhood benefits from the generosity of Gifts with Vision in support of the ISCC whether they identify as Indigenous or not and for that, we are deeply grateful.”
This gift is currently available from Gifts with Vision.