Community Health

Funding level: Up to $50,000


Living here on the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, commonly noted as Canada’s poorest postal code, can be tough. Every day, folks here face many obstacles preventing them from living a healthy and happy life. Getting out of the DTES can be a challenge too. As First United’s Director of Programs tells us, “It’s a poverty issue: your world becomes small.” Yet, research tells us, and the actual stories of our own community members confirms that spending time in nature is essential for good health. As we hear in the video, “everybody needs to hear quietness once in a while.” For indigenous members of our community, strong connections with the land are especially important. A trip to Vancouver Native Health Society's Tu'wusht medicine garden, for example, offers opportunities for urban indigenous people to heal and reconnect on their own terms.

We are seeking funding for a new passenger van to get folks out of the DTES and into nature! We hear that people want more trips outside the neighbourhood to visit local parks, lakes, rivers, the ocean, and garden spaces, but these trips can be difficult to make happen. As one community member told us, “We live in probably the most beautiful province in the world, and I haven’t seen it.” Sometimes these places are remote and aren't easily accessible by public transit, or the cost of transit itself is a barrier. Sometimes folks need to make these trips as a part of a group to feel secure and supported in getting out of their normal comfort zone. Sometimes folks with different ability levels need an accessible trip facilitated for them. Another community member shared: “I don’t go on any field trips, so to speak, unless you guys take me.”

First United is uniquely positioned to facilitate these trips because we are already well-established in the community, known and trusted by our community members. Shooting this video, we had the chance to take small groups out on two separate trips and even though we were hard at work creating the film, still the results were profound: “My body is just relaxed. I’m lost. I’m in heaven,” we hear a community member share.

With $50,000 from the Aviva Community Fund, we will be able to buy a new van and add to a team of staff to put the van to use!

New outdoors programming will impact the lives of our DTES community members by lowering stress levels and increasing opportunities for community connections. We have already heard from folks how these trips allow them to reconnect with their roots – how they were raised and where they’re from. The outdoors programming will create new avenues for empowerment as individuals are able to break from the transactional and bureaucratic life of accessing support services on the DTES, often characterized by lineups and the demand to fill out paperwork to demonstrate a need. They will have more chances to get away from the noise and the concrete and remember the natural wonders our lovely region has to offer. With your help and your votes, we’re excited to offer new pathways to health, wellness, and personal empowerment for our community members here on the DTES!

Broker supported

First United Church Community Ministry Society

Location: Vancouver

Back to the projects