Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is home to one of Canada’s largest urban populations of First Nation people. In addition to three Coast Salish Nations indigenous to this area, the DTES is also home to Métis and Inuit from all over the country.
In 2010, PHS Community Services expanded to include the Indigenous Health Services program in response to the health disparities and prejudice experienced by this group.
Indigenous Health Services, including Culture Saves Lives addresses cultural and spiritual care by reconnecting or helping people to connect for the first time to traditional, spiritual and cultural practices of wellness.
The program serves approximately 80 to 100 people a week through weekly talking circles, monthly sweat lodge ceremonies, drum making, weekly drumming and singing circles, carving and other community and on-reserve events and gatherings.
The Indigenous Health Services program manager is well connected to community Elders as well as other community programs and organizations. The program often acts as a bridging service, connecting community members to needed resources, or as an advocating body.