Helping Spirit Lodge Society is a leading Indigenous women’s organization located in the Greater Vancouver area, that alleviates family violence and enhances community wellness through a traditional, holistic approach.
Spirit Way is a 14-unit residential program with 18-month accommodation for women and children who have suffered domestic violence. It is operated by Helping Spirit Lodge Society in partnership with BC Housing.
“Sometimes there’s more month than there is payday.” Spirit Way Program Coordinator – Patricia Dobrik points out. “Food is at the centre of everything we do, it’s our culture.” Last year, the CAP program supplied 11, 379 lbs of food that enabled Spirit Way to offer food to residents six days a week. 36 people including 13 mums and 23 kids are fed through weekly community kitchens, snack and breakfast programs, meals included with workshops, an in-house 24-7 food bank and a monthly community meal. This allows the families to focus on getting back on their feet without having to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
An essential aspect of Spirit Way’s holistic approach promotes healing in a supportive environment and cooking together is a natural fit. “The best things happen when you are cooking together as a community. Healing, telling stories,” enthuses Patricia “You want to empower them (the mums) and embrace their story and allow them to feel like they have contributed to their own life. Cooking is one of the ways we can encourage this to happen.”
Not only do the families have access to essential proteins like peanut butter, canned fish, eggs and fresh produce, but Spirit Way was able to recently hire two youth mentors with money saved by not having to buy food.