Dan’s Legacy and the Collingwood Neighbourhood House Carving Project

This National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21) we are honoured to respectfully and gratefully acknowledge that our work takes place on the unceded and traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples, who have been stewards of this land for thousands of years.

Approximately 40% of the clients we serve at Dan’s Legacy are Indigenous, and many grew up in foster care, completely disconnected to their families, community and heritage.

Helping our Indigenous clients connect to the land is critical to their emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being, and we are proud of the work we have done in partnership with Elders and other Indigenous advisors.

This year, to help build connections between the youth and their culture, we were given the opportunity to be involved in the Welcome Pole Figure Carving project at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, an initiative fostering cultural expression and community building.

We committed $15,000 to the project, and every Friday, one of our outreach workers and one of our therapists were on hand to link the youth to our support programs if requested.

The Welcome Pole Figure Carving project launched in February and was guided by master carver Mike Billy, a 7th generation skwxwu7mesh (Squamish) canoe carver, and apprentice Redmond Andrews. It welcomed participants of all ages and skill levels, with a focus on Indigenous youth, Elders, and families. Participants were also encouraged to engage in weekly plaque and mask carving programs where they learned knife sharpening techniques and tool maintenance.

Supporting cultural workshops like the pole carving project play a pivotal role in our commitment to Indigenous youth. Beyond workshops for clients, we also provide cultural sensitivity training to all staff too. In addition, we work with Elders in the community and seek to include Indigenous representation at the leadership level.

We hope to engage with more projects like this in the future, and we encourage all Indigenous youth who are seeking counselling, wrap-around and/or job-skills training support to contact us today.