An Innovative Model for Social Entrepreneurship: Skwachàys Lodge Aboriginal Hotel and Gallery

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9 December, 2015

Artscape Creative Placemaking Webinar1pm Eastern (10am Pacific, 2pm Atlantic)

Opened in 2012, Skwachàys Lodge is located at the crossroads of Vancouver’s historic Gastown, Chinatown and Railtown districts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Part hotel, part gallery, part social housing complex the Skwachàys business model allows 100% of the profits to flow directly to VNHS. In addition to being a hotel and fair trade Aboriginal art gallery, it operates a native artist in residence program and houses subsidized apartments for First Nations people at risk of homelessness.

This social enterprise model reduces VNHS’s dependence on government subsidies and private donations while enabling it to continue its mandate of providing safe, secure and affordable housing to Vancouver’s urban Aboriginal population. This webinar will provide insight and learnings on developing an innovative social enterprise model and leveraging assets to deliver positive community impacts and unique experiences rooted in cultural heritage.

You Will Learn

  • About the vision and development of Skwachàys Lodge
  • How to leverage a real estate asset for a social purpose
  • How to pinpoint a unique strength in your community and how to build a creative social enterprise around it
  • About the challenges and opportunities that were faced in developing this model
  • About working with partners to bring your social enterprise to life

Register for the Skwachàys Lodge Aboriginal Hotel and Gallery webinar

About the Speakers

David Eddy

David Eddy became the Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS), a non-profit, off-reserve, Aboriginal housing provider in Vancouver, Canada, in January 2001.

Under David’s leadership over the last seven years, VNHS has increased its portfolio by nearly 100% and broadened its mandate from strictly housing urban Aboriginal families and seniors to providing supportive housing for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, as well as housing for youth and for women leaving abusive/violent situations.

Since June, 2012 David has taken VNHS in a new direction of entrepreneurialism and self-sustainability, creating two social enterprises which have received international media attention and acclaim. With the introduction of Skwachàys Lodge ( and the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery (, the society is guiding new projects to focus on Aboriginal art and culture as a means of revitalizing community pride and leading transformative change, and while doing this providing subsidy for 24 Aboriginal artists to live in the community.

David sits on the Board of Directors of Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA) and served as its president from 2008 to 2010. He previously served on the Board of the British Columbia Non-Profit Housing Association as a director and as secretary on its executive. He is a founding director of the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC) and currently sits on its Housing and Homelessness Table. In 2014, Dave was asked to join the Vancouver Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions.

Prior to his work with VNHS, David worked for 16 years in social and affordable housing with a particular focus on marginalized groups and communities on the east side of Vancouver.

He has a Master’s degree in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. A father of a grown son, David delights in his role as grandpa to his three young grandchildren.

Pru Robey

Pru Robey is a passionate advocate for the transformative impact the arts and culture have on the lives of individuals and communities. Throughout her career, the development of innovative, multi-sector approaches to support cultural sector development, creative economy activation and sustainable urban regeneration has been a centerpiece of her work. Pru has over 30 years of experience as a consultant, researcher, manager, promoter and funder in the arts, culture and creative industries in Canada and the UK. As Vice President and Creative Placemaking Lab Director at Toronto-based Artscape, Pru takes the lead in new project research and development and on major research initiatives; directs a suite of programs and services designed to build the capacity of communities internationally to undertake creative placemaking; and advises communities internationally on strategies to support city-building through the arts. She designed and teaches Canada’s only undergraduate course in Creative Placemaking for the University of British Columbia and is a member of the Placemaking Leadership Council.

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Housing & Real Estate
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