Strengthening Cultural Programming as a Reconciliation Effort at Dr. Peter Centre

Bringing Comfort to Those Who Need It Most

Walking through to doors of the Dr. Peter Centre in Vancouver’s West Side offers a sense of relief for many. The HIV/AIDS care facility looks more like a home than a clinic. Smells of soup and warm bread fill the air. Those coming in off the street are welcome to shower, do laundry or join a music or art therapy group. 

A third of the people accessing the Centre’s services are Indigenous. In response, it is adding cultural services to address the burdens of racism and the long-term impacts of the residential school system that people also carry.

Indigenous Reconciliation Fund Supports Reconciliation in HIV/AIDS Care

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) is committed to supporting the Dr. Peter Centre over five years so it can hire Indigenous staff and provide full-time programming. The hope is patients will find comfort and healing during their HIV/AIDS treatment by deepening their relationship with their heritage. This includes opportunities to practice and participate in activities such as smudging, talking circles, medicine gathering, traditional meals, ceremonies, and time with Elders. IRF is also helping with the costs for all staff and Board members to take decolonization and cultural safety training.  

With the help of IRF the Dr. Peter Centre can better meet the needs of Indigenous people through a trauma-informed lens and a cultural framework. 

This work is one of a kind. Culturally safe Indigenous harm reduction programs across Canada are scarce. Many Indigenous HIV/AIDS agencies have closed their doors due to funding problems.  Yet, Indigenous people remain disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Creating space where Indigenous people feel safe and welcome to access services is an urgent priority this project addresses.

The Dr. Peter Centre Background

The Dr. Peter Centre specializes in HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, harm reduction, and holistic care. The Centre is nationally recognized for providing low-barrier, stigma-free services. 

The Dr. Peter Centre and Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation are committed to ensuring that people with HIV/AIDS, complex health and social needs are supported in all aspects of their health and well-being. To learn more, visit their website.

Archdiocese of Vancouver