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This week Joe Catlin and I had the privilege of attending the launch event for First United’s * Capital Campaign: First Forward. We heard the (frequently teary-eyed) testimony of the people who are bringing this dream into being.

Executive Director Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne (who calls LVUC her church home) described the work of First United, and particularly the redevelopment, as ”reconciliation in action.” 40 % of the residents of the Downtown Eastside identify as indigenous.

“We’re redeveloping our site into an 11-story building purpose-built to suit the needs and interests of the community. The first four floors, operated by FIRST, will provide safe and inclusive community amenities with three times more space for our low-barrier services and programming. The seven floors above will offer safe, secure homes for Indigenous peoples operated by the Lu’ma Native Housing Society.“

The term “purpose built” is something she feels passionate about: there is a big difference between “all are welcome” and “this place is built for you.” You will have a chance to learn more when Carmen speaks to us at the church service on December 5. In the meantime, you can join in the online Toast Talks: there is one on Thursday November 18 at 4:30, repeated on Friday at 9 am. You can register online at https://firstunited.ca/events.

*For over 135 years, First United Church Community Ministry Society (commonly known as First United) has served the residents of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on a mission to seek a just society by nurturing each person’s spirit through ministry, housing, advocacy, and community service.

Judith Clark
Social Justice and Outreach Team


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