A moving closing ceremony in Kelowna

On July 26, 2023, members of the Kelowna Homelessness Research Centre (KHRC), BC Centre for Palliative Care (BCCPC), as well as the Lived Experience Circle on Homelessness (LECoH) gathered together at City Park in Kelowna, BC with guests Edna Terbasket of Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and Elder Grouse Barnes of Westbank First Nation in a closing ceremony for the “Improving the bereavement experience among people who are experiencing homelessness in BC” research study.

This ceremony was an expression of gratitude for everyone involved in the study, as well as a way to honour those who have died in our community and those who have been impacted by the losses. It is all too common for the bereaved who are experiencing homelessness to be unrecognized grievers in our community, who are then not adequately supported in their bereavement. We hoped this ceremony would provide an opportunity to feel seen and supported. During the ceremony, we were guided through an opening prayer, eulogy to honor all those who have died, a drumming circle, and smudging. We completed the event with food and creating a memorial art piece together: a white shopping cart adorned with the names of those we have lost, now respectfully located at OS4 in Kelowna.

KHRC and BCCPC now turn our attention to analyzing the data collected from the 40 in-person interviews completed with people with lived experience of bereavement in the context of homelessness, to better understand their experiences and their thoughts on what can be done better in providing support. Research outputs will follow as they become available.

This project has been funded in part by a contribution from Health Canada, Health Care Policy and Strategies Program through the Pan-Canadian Palliative Care Research Collaborative Seed Grants program, and the University of British Columbia Okanagan Eminence program. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada or the University of British Columbia.

For more information: please contact Joshua Black, project manager (BCCPC) at jblack@bc-cpc.ca or Stephanie Laing, Director of Operations (KHRC) at stephanie.laing@ubc.ca.

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