ALIVE (Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement) Society exists to promote, enhance and foster the social, economic, and cultural well-being and health of Aboriginal peoples in Vancouver. Working within a place-based framework to develop inclusive strategies to support Aboriginal individuals, families, and extended families wherever they find themselves; ALIVE creates opportunities for urban Aboriginal people in the City of Vancouver to fully engage as citizens in their neighbourhoods and in the city as a whole. ALIVE was created in 2010 in response to the needs and desires of many urban Aboriginal peoples to seek supports and receive services in a new way.

We reach out to our community on an ongoing basis to ensure we remain fully accountable to our members and communities to which they belong. ALIVE strives to build effective partnerships and collaboratives, promoting initiatives and strategies that Enhance the experiences of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. The recent, Environics Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study (UAPS), supports our findings that the majority of Aboriginal peoples in Vancouver feel empowered to contribute to community life within their neighbourhoods, and that they can make Vancouver a better place to live. The UAPS reports that success means a balanced life, close to family and friends, raising healthy well-adjusted children who contribute positively to their community.

A large proportion of Aboriginal peoples in our city report multiple barriers to participation, including feelings of stigmatization and negative experiences accessing supports and resources such as housing, education, childcare and employment. ALIVE believes that, using a place-based strategy, we can create avenues for Aboriginal citizens to have meaningful impacts in their communities and to identify their role in the urban ‘place’ on their own terms. Place-based approaches work to actively engage citizens by removing barriers, and promoting people-centred, participatory service delivery and economic involvement. It does so by creating comprehensive, holistic, and integrated strategies that target both the individual and broader community needs.

Our approach to service delivery is much broader than the current federal, provincial, and municipal government models which keep us segregated and fund programs through competitive, siloed processes. Our model is outlined in more detail in the attached Reconciliation In Action-2014 booklet. We believe that to truly be reflective and relevant, change must be progressive, evidence-based, and involve our citizens and partners. This approach is not endorsed at this time by any government level with the exception of the Vancouver School Board, which has endorsed our Graduation Strategy, a partnership developed to ensure all children are fully prepared for each level of education and that all achieve success.

This approach and the principles involved are very similar to the Comprehensive Community Planning (CCP) processes that many land-based First Nations are now developing. ALIVE has been inspired by the work of Musqueam First Nations CCP process, which is described in more detail in the booklet as presented by Musqueam Councillor Wendy Grant-John. Our challenges are very different of course from that of land-based peoples, but the Indigenous principles we have adopted of connecting the social, economic, and environmental variables are quite similar. Our strategic approach is fully supported by BC Representative of Children and Youth, who shares their thoughts in the Reconciliation booklet on the need to embrace evidence-based strategic approaches, beginning with a prenatal lens and continuing to support our children and families through to post secondary graduation.

ALIVE society is committed to engaging the principles of a place-based philosophy to, foster equitable and inclusive communities for Aboriginal peoples in Vancouver. As a resource to the community, we have created a document outlining the philosophy, as well as specific place-based contexts and practises. Download a PDF of our place-based 2 pager here
Or check out our Reconciliation in Action Booklet to learn more about the collective impact, place-based work of ALIVE and our partners.