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Young Bears Lodge

The Young Bears Lodge is a culturally-based, live-in empowerment program focused on recovery from alcohol and drug misuse/abuse for Indigenous youth ages 13-18 years old. The Lodge is a sixteen-week voluntary co-ed residential program. We have five beds and four intake phases.

In 2015, Young Bears Lodge undertook a program renewal resulted in an enhanced model of service delivery. The Lodge remains Indigenous in focus, spirit and operations, with increased support for Elders and peer mentors, cultural activities, and practices.   

YBL team - Open House 2015 Some of the YBL team celebrating our open house! 

Program Activities

The Young Bears Lodge program is made up of four, one-month phases that revolve around the four quadrants of the Medicine Wheel which helps youth learn about themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The Recovery Wheel is used to assist youth in identifying their individual goals, thus empowering them to determine how they choose to identify and deal with their needs in a more productive and positive way.  

Each phase brings new challenges in life skills, cultural teachings, alcohol and drug education, physical fitness, and specific workshops on a variety of topics such as Boundaries and Respect, Anger Management, Relapse Prevention, Recognizing Triggers, Harm Reduction, Goal Setting, and much more.   

Respect for the Medicines, cultural teachings, sacred ceremonies and traditions are taught and followed as many youth have not been taught about their heritage or the significance of ceremony in their culture. One day a week is dedicated to ceremonies in which youth participate in either a Sweat Ceremony, Pipe Ceremony, Spirit Bath, Moon Lodge teachings, Change of Season Ceremony, drumming and songs, or other activities. During the week youth learn to create crafts that will be given to their support persons during their giveaway ceremony and to visiting guests and Elders at the Lodge. Youth also make their ceremony outfit to wear during their ceremony. When a youth has completed a phase they are honoured in a blanket ceremony with invited guests/support persons. Upon completion of the 16-week program youth are honoured with a Potlatch/Giveaway Ceremony and are presented with a Medicine Bundle which includes tobacco, cedar, sweet grass, sage, echo and their Eagle feather and a personalized certificate.

What Youth Are Saying

Fall Change of Season Feast: "I felt like for once I could change for the better. I felt so much love and support from the people that came to the feast. I felt like I could make it. I felt special and respected. I’m more determined to stay sober now. I’m going to make it”.  T. Q. 18 yrs - Graduate

 "You learn how to work through your issues at YBL. It’s better than putting your life at risk” K. C. 16 yrs - Graduate

"I’m living a life of passion and my spirit has awakened, I finally feel at peace. I came into Young Bears’ Lodge not sure of what I want, but what I’ve learned is more than enough. Surrounded by my culture of the Native People of this land, my soul is healing with medicines and teachings”.  N.C. 18 yrs - Graduate

"The staff at Young Bears’ Lodge has helped me a lot along my recovery journey. I truly respect and honour these people. I am truly grateful and honoured to have these beautiful people help me along in my recovery and I couldn’t have asked for more”. A.F. 15 yrs -Graduate

"Young Bears Lodge is helping me build up my strength, courage, wisdom and so much more. They are helping me stand on my own two feet and not be afraid to reach out for help”.  N.R. 18yrs - Graduate

 "For youth that’s 13 to 18 years, look into this program. It’s a great program.  It helped me through with my problems, it made me stronger and it brought me more tools for when I’m out there once again”. D.T. 18 yrs

"You learn a lot about your culture and things like anger management and trust. There’s always staff around 24/7, so you know there’s always someone there”.  J.H. 15 yrs.

How to get involved

To request an intake and/or to make a referral, please contact Young Bears Lodge directly. 

Youth can self-refer to the program, or be referred by their family, or involved agencies within the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority region.

Once the Intake & Referral Counsellor receives a completed referral package, the YBL team reviews it to ensure that the youth fits within our mandate. Staff will then set up a time to meet with the youth and his/her support people to discuss the program and the needs of the youth, to ensure that the Lodge is a good fit for the youth's current needs. Pending suitability and space availability, a youth is admitted to begin a two-week orientation phase during which, she/he works closely with staff to get oriented to the program and become 'group ready'.  This period also provides an opportunity for the youth to decide if she/he is able to commit to a four-month program. Once the youth has confirmed this, the youth will work with YBL staff to develop a care plan and an after care plan, and identify the support person(s) who will be committed to supporting the youth during and after their stay at YBL.

Program Funders

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

Contact us today

Mailing Address:
1618 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V5L 1S6
Phone: 604-322-7577 


Training the Leaders of Tomorrow

1618 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V5L 1S6 Call: (604) 254-7732 Email: