Veronica Carroll, CEO, Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island breaks ground at Qwalayu House in Campbell River. Photo contributed

Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island breaks ground on new North Island home away from home

Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island officially broke ground today on a new home away from home in Campbell River.

The 10-bedroom home, named Q̓ʷalayu House, will welcome families and expectant mothers, largely from the west and northern regions of Vancouver Island, who need a place to stay while accessing the adjacent North Island Hospital and nearby health care services.

The home was inspired by the success of Jeneece Place, a beloved home away from home built from the dream of Jeneece Edroff, the ‘penny girl.’ Edroff asked the community to rally behind the development of a home for families to stay while their children received health care in Victoria. As families, health care providers, and community groups from northern Vancouver Island saw the impact of Jeneece Place, they stepped forward voicing a need to expand this model in Campbell River.

“I am thrilled that the vision this community had years ago to build a welcoming, culturally safe, and nurturing environment for families to stay while their children are accessing health care, is finally becoming a reality. This home will be such a positive support system for rural and remote families who need to travel great distances to access care, and it’s impact will be felt for generations to come,” says Veronica Carroll, CEO at Children’s Health Foundation.

The name Q̓ʷalayu House, which mixes both English and the traditional language of the home’s host community on the shared territories of the We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum First Nations. Q̓ʷalayu or Qwalayu (pronounced kwuh-lie-you) is an endearing term used by Elders when they speak of babies and children as their reason for being. First Nations groups, Elders, and a traditional language group were involved in the naming process.

The project received a significant boost when the capital campaign kicked off in September 2019, when an anonymous donor stepped forward to contribute a $3 million core funding gift.

A large parcel of land adjacent to the North Island Hospital was also provided by Island Health to Children’s Health Foundation as a long-term license.

Children’s Health Foundation has been working with a dedicated committee and dozens of community partners to help make this dream a reality. While the project has formally broken ground, the Foundation actively continues to raise funds to meet its $7 million goal, which will cover costs to build the home, fully equip the 10-bedroom facility, and fund the first five years of operating costs.

For more information about the Q̓ʷalayu House project and campaign, visit islandkidsfirst.com/campbellriverhome.

RELATED: Qwalayu House in Campbell River to be North Island families’ home away from home

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