Caring for families travelling for their children’s health care.
Like the daily ebb and flow of the tides along the shores of Vancouver Island, there is constant movement of Island families who travel to access health care for their kids.
For these families, having a safe, comfortable place to stay while away from their home, community, and support networks makes all the difference. Thankfully, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island’s home away from home in Campbell River, Q̓ʷalayu House, is there for them.
Q̓ʷalayu House is inspired by the success of Jeneece Place, a beloved home away from home inspired by the dream of Frankie Edroff (formerly Jeneece Edroff), the “Penny Girl.” In 2012, Jeneece asked the Victoria community to rally behind the development of a home for families to stay in while their children received health care in Victoria.
Now, 10 years since the opening of Jeneece Place, its impact has been felt by thousands of Island families. According to Denman Island mom Bronwynne, Jeneece Place has meant the world to her daughter, June, who lives with cerebral palsy and has to travel to Victoria for medical treatments.
“Jeneece Place means everything to us. For June, it’s not just this big, scary experience plus a long car ride. It means going somewhere really special that’s geared just for her. It makes the horrible experience of her appointments much easier to handle,” said Bronwynne.
Families, health care providers, and community groups from the North Island saw the impact of Jeneece Place and stepped forward, voicing a need to create something similar in Campbell River. This home would help ease the burden for expectant moms and families with children seeking access to an affordable and nurturing place to stay while they, or their children, receive health care, especially those travelling long distances from rural and remote communities.
When envisioning the home, stakeholders held many strategic planning sessions to determine the values that would move the project forward. Through Kathi Camilleri’s Paddling Together workshop, the group identified that the home would be a culturally safe space, inclusive for all families. Other values included compassion, respect of families, connectedness, and acceptance.
With the encouragement of First Nations Elders and other project partners, it was decided that Q̓ʷalayu House, mixing both the Kwakwaka’wakw community language and English, reflected an inclusive name that would welcome all families into the home away from home. Q̓ʷalayu (pronounced kwuh-lie-you) is an endearing term used by Kwakwaka’wakw Elders when they speak of babies and children as their reason for being.
After years of planning, collaboration, and community support, Children’s Health Foundation opened the doors to Q̓ʷalayu House last summer. The house has seen a constant flow of families ever since.
Looking forward for years to come, there will always be a need for Q̓ʷalayu House. For Port Hardy mom of two boys, Janet, the impact is deeply personal.
“My kids have health issues and if they stay on the North Island and have kids, there’s a chance that their kids are going to have issues too. Looking down the road, a home away from home in Campbell River would be an asset for them. Q̓ʷalayu House will take that stress and worry away from future generations.”
Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island is committed to making sure all families feel safe, comfortable, and welcome in their homes away from home. We invite you to join us, as a community, to raise the funds needed to ensure that Q̓ʷalayu House will be there to hold Island families close for generations to come.