Young Bears Lodge
Goals / Purpose of Program
Young Bears’ Lodge opened its doors on April 4th, 2001. The Lodge is a culturally-based, live-in empowerment program focused on recovery from alcohol and drug misuse/abuse for Aboriginal youth. The Lodge is a sixteen-week voluntary co-ed residential program. We have five beds, have four intake phases, and operate on a continuous of 24 hour schedule.
Over the last year, Young Bears Lodge undertook a program renewal which has resulted in an enhanced model of service delivery. Throughout this process, Peak House, Vancouver Coastal Health, and other community partners graciously shared their knowledge, experience, and resources which helped to inform the renewal of the Lodge. We are greatly appreciative of the community support that we received, and we lift our hands in gratitude to you!
We are very excited to announce that the Lodge has resumed intakes with this new model as of November 2015. The Lodge remains Aboriginal in focus, spirit and operations, with increased support for the roles of Elders and peer mentors, cultural activities, and practices.
Some of the Young Bears Lodge team, celebrating our Open House!
The Young Bears Lodge program revolves around the four quadrants of the Medicine Wheel and is made up of four, one-month phases. Youth are challenged physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during their stay. The Recovery Wheel is implemented throughout the process 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 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 followed on a daily basis as many youth do not know or recognize 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 creae 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.
Recreational development/boot camp is another component of our program. Youth are introduced to a variety of physical activities to enhance their physical-being as well as build self-esteem, a strong mind and body, and peer support, which helps to create a stronger and positive self-image.
While at Young Bears Lodge, youth also attend weekly NA/AA meetings. During their time at the Lodge youth write three letters; their last 90 days, letter to self and letter to their addiction. Youth will also complete 3 of the 12 steps assignments before completing the program. This will establish a stronger foundation for them while on their road to recovery.
Case conference meetings are held in which the youth, staff, involved support persons and family members are invited to ensure the youth are meeting their goals and that a strong after care plan is in place.
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 Youth Can Become Involved
Youth can self-refer to the program, or be referred by their family, or involved agencies within the Vancouver Coastal Healt Authority.
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 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 affirmed this, the youth will work with staff to develop a care and after care plan, and identify the support person(s) who will be involved.
Young Bears Lodge Brochure (pdf)
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