Uya’am Gaak aims to empower Indigenous SRO tenants to become leaders in their hotels by creating opportunities for them to access social and cultural supports, learn with Indigenous Elders/Knowledge Keepers, and co-design solutions to the SRO housing crisis. Uya’am Gaak in the Nisga’a language means “the natural force of the raven.” In traditional Nisga’a orality, the raven brings light to a world of darkness. Metaphorically, the raven with its natural and transformative force brings light to the barriers which Indigenous tenants face.

One of Uya’am Gaak’s components is a unique participatory research project called “Holding Space for Indigenous Leadership in the Housing and Overdose Crises in Vancouver’s DTES” (a.k.a. Holding Space). Holding Space investigates ways of indigenizing tenant organizing and employs a research approach that offers culturally-appropriate capacity-building and tenant organizing opportunities to Indigenous tenants in SROs. The project provides a five-year platform for stabilizing, healing, co-learning, cultural reconnection, elder support, and research among our team.

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