A big part of our mission at the SRO Collaborative and TORO is to reconnect the people of the DTES to the culture and history of our neighbourhood. Through the recognition of our neighbours as complete human beings with hobbies, faiths, families, and so on; we can begin to heal as a community.
So many of the tenants that we work with are indigenous, some from nations far away. While we encourage those that can to reconnect to their roots and traditional teachings, it isn’t always an option for some. For whatever reason they have lost their connection to their family or nation, but that doesn’t mean they have to be completely cut off from culture.
We have recently been so lucky to be introduced to the Vancouver Two Spirit and Friends Sweat Lodge. The lodge is made available by Elder Sandy Laframboise, Butterfly Woman, with permission of the George Family and Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Elder Sandy is very interested in ways of adapting the traditional teachings to make the experience more accessible to folks still using substances and coping with addiction.
This is only one small part of our commitment to centering cultural practices in our harm reduction work. We have already made bannock and braided bracelets in the office and our community has been involved with making drums and song groups.
We are learning very clearly that culture is keys to the healing process. We look forward to continuing to find new ways of including cultural practice in our community organizing work.
To keep up to date on these amazing cultural experiences and for the chance to participate in them with us follow TORO on Facebook.