“Coming together is healing. Culture is medicine,” says Sam Jack SUILC Co-Chair.
Indigenous community members in Surrey have reported feeling invisible, isolated and alone.
On this point, community members have spoken: Surrey needs a purpose-built Indigenous
centre. Indigenous Gathering Place in Surrey is a document prepared by the Surrey Urban
Indigenous Leadership Committee to envision what a community gathering space in Surrey
could look like.
Unlike other cities, of similar size, Surrey does not have a dedicated space for urban Indigenous
people. SUILC is advocating for a space that accommodates Indigenous cultural activities and
community connections. One characteristic of poverty, as defined by the Indigenous community
in Surrey, is the absence of opportunities to connect with other urban Indigenous
people in Surrey and share cultural practices, teachings and kinship. The vision for
the gathering place includes: a place that accommodates a drum night, a pow-wow, a regalia
class, a potlatch, or an Indigenous graduation ceremony; a place for offices and meeting rooms
that can be used by Indigenous service providers and break down barriers that Indigenous
people face when trying to access support and community services, a place that can facilitate and
support social and cultural connections; and a place that gives visibility to the Indigenous
presence in Surrey.
SUILC’s Indigenous Mixed Use Space: Preliminary Vision and Program Report details the
specific qualities a community gathering space could provide for the urban Indigenous
community in Surrey. The report found community members needed a space that can
accommodate a reception/lobby, a community hall, a kitchen, a maker space, a recreation space,
an Elder’s space, a social innovation space, as well as support spaces.