Aboriginal Children's Village Officially Opens

An overcast sky could do nothing to dampen the spirits of the dignitaries, guests, residents and community members who came together to celebrate the Dave Pranteau Aboriginal Children's Village.

Terra principal, Simon Davie, helped to cut the ribbon to launch the official opening of this unique 24 unit project in Vancouver.  Terra worked with Lu'ma Native Housing since 2007 to help secure funding for this project and to see it to successful completion.

The Children's Village provides housing for foster children, youth-in-transition as well as affordable rental units for families.  The project works to strengthen the cultural identity of the community within while promoting connections with the surrounding community and improves the life chances of Aboriginal children and youth in care by creating a positive, culturally relevant environment in which they can thrive.

Shane Pointe, Elder of the Musqueam Nation, offered the traditional welcome to open the ceremonies, saying "I am honoured to welcome you all here to this beautiful place".

Bernadette Spence, CEO of the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services, led the blessing of the ground with an offering of tobacco, calling the project "a dream, a vision" and thanking "the core of people who are beautiful in spirit" who were responsible for launching the Children's Village project.

Master Carver, Mike Dangeli, led the ceremony to scatter eagle and swan's down and to unveil four of the totem poles which grace the building created by architect Patrick Stewart.  During their creation, Mike brought the poles to school classrooms and said "little hand were on these poles.  They are living, breathing entities".  The main entrance poles, one male and one female, "mirror each other and bring balance".

Councillor Kerry Jang of the City of Vancouver said "this is my neighbourhood - a neighbourhood of families" and described growing up in a welcoming community of many different nationalities.  The Aboriginal Children's Village continues that welcoming tradition which supports children and families.

Tenant of the building, Christine Martin, described her home as "a wonderful asset in our community".  She said there are regular events such as carving workshops and that "kids are inundated with culture" in the building.