A Home for Wellness

Vancouver Friends for Life welcomes people living in Vancouver City Centre and facing life challenges associated with HIV, Cancer, Hepatitis C and other illnesses to participate in specialized support programs. 
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Most services take place in our amazing historic house in Vancouver's West End - The Diamond Center For Living. 

 

This beautiful facility is also available outside of service times for private use.  Learn more.  

Since our launch in 1993, Vancouver Friends For Life Society has welcomed countless client-members, volunteers and staff members through our doors. 

 

Here we share our stories about the impact that this Society has had on our health, well-being and quality of life.

There are many ways to help us continue to serve the needs of the community. 

 

Donate, volunteer, provide services as a health practitioner, or simply have fun attending a fundraiser.   Learn more. 

Statement from the President and Chair of the Vancouver Friends for Life Society 

 

On May 27th, the world learned what so many Indigenous Canadians, many of them survivors themselves of the horror of what were known as Indian Residential Schools, tried to tell us: that at least one of those schools was the site of a mass grave. They tried to tell us for decades, but not enough of us were willing to listen. Not enough of us wanted to confront the truth of those horrors, and what doing so would require of us. The remains of two hundred fifteen children, some as young as three, were buried on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, located in the traditional and unceded territories of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépem First Nation.

These children’s lives were taken after so much else already had been, with the seal of approval of the Government of Canada, and with the assistance of a number of religious organizations, though predominantly the Roman Catholic Church. These children were kidnapped from their families and communities, and brutally forced to relinquish their culture, their faith, their traditions, their language, the things that bring comfort and security to so many people. It was in this environment that these children were killed, along with countless others, by the Government of Canada and the Roman Catholic Church, by a system and by individuals charged with their care. Untold thousands more survived this system, to which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission rightfully referred as a cultural genocide, and were left to their own devices, shattered by our country, to try and pick up the pieces of their lives. The result was tragically predictable, and its legacy remains to this very day. 

 

Canada’s system of Residential Schools is not ancient history. The Friends reunion show was released on the same day the Tk’emlúps te Secwépem First Nation announced the discovery of the remains of those children. That particular sitcom was on the air when the last Residential School in this country finally closed. This is not old. This is painfully current, and there are people living in our communities today dealing with the trauma of what Canada did to them. There are people living in our communities today with no idea what happened to their loved ones. This is not old. 

 

In the weeks, months, and years ahead, we will learn a great deal more about the truth of this system. As raw and shocking as this moment is, I fear that future developments will be unimaginable. We owe it to all those who perished, whether at or because of the schools in this system, and to those who survived not to become numb, not to look away. I would like to take this moment to encourage all of us who are not Indigenous Canadians to take time to listen to the stories of those who are. Heed their wisdom on how each of us can do our part to advance us down the path toward truth and reconciliation. Listen to them, however painful it might be, when they share the history of what has come before, and the reality of what is happening now. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Report and familiarize yourselves with its recommendations. Learn whose traditional lands you live on, and then learn about those people, their history, and their current issues. Talk to your elected officials to make certain that they know that platitudes on the hustings simply aren’t enough. Action is required. The news of these two hundred fifteen children has finally awakened us. Let us never get so complacent that we shut our eyes once more. 

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