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Qwalayu House to start providing a home away from home for North Islanders this summer

Facility will provide families a place to stay when receiving care at the North Island Hospital
Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island is building Qwalayu House adjacent to North Island Hospital in Campbell River. Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island photo

As Victoria’s Jeneece Place celebrates its ninth anniversary providing a home away from home for families whose children are seeking medical care, construction continues on Campbell River’s Qwalayu House planned for opening this summer.

Since Jeneece Place opened its doors on Jan. 21, 2012, over 2,000 Vancouver Island families have stayed in the home while their children received medical care. Hundreds of those families have stayed at the home away from home more than once. Guests have included the families of premature babies in Victoria General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and of children and youth requiring critical surgeries, services, and rehabilitation.

Inspired by Jeneece Place, Qwalayu House is currently under construction adjacent to the North Island Hospital in Campbell River. Qwalayu House opens Summer 2021 to support families living in the remote communities of the North Island and surrounding islands.

“North Island families often travel hours by car, bus, or boat to access maternal or pediatric health care. The travel required can turn a two-hour appointment into an overnight journey,” Children’s Health Foundation CEO, Veronica Carroll, says. “You can imagine how physically and emotionally exhausting, and financially challenging, it is for a family with children who need ongoing or critical health care. Qwalayu House will be there to support and nurture those families.”

When a teenaged Jeneece Edroff began raising funds to build a home away from home in Victoria, there were some who doubted that enough money could be raised.

“I believe ‘when pigs fly’ was the expression used,” Carroll laughs. “There is a sculpture of a winged pig at Jeneece Place to recognize what Jeneece and the community achieved. We’ll have one at Qwalayu House too, to honour the inspiration of Jeneece Place and because our donors have proved that pigs can fly”.

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