The Oasis Society for the Spiritual Health of Victoria is a not-for-profit urban Indigenous organization. Their mission is to provide support, inspire and empower Indigenous people experiencing various issues such as mental health, substance use challenges and homelessness, due to multi-generational trauma. We spoke with Karen Hira, Executive Director of The Oasis Society for the Spiritual Health of Victoria, to learn more about them.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
The Oasis Society for Spiritual health is an urban Indigenous non-profit organization that supports Indigenous persons experiencing multi-generational trauma expressed in homelessness, mental health and substance use challenges, and other ongoing impacts of colonization.
What problem does it aim to solve?
The objectives of our program are to foster a sense of belonging in a caring, inclusive and culturally appropriate community; nurture the establishment and growth of authentic relationships between people from different walks of life; host events that encourage connection to self, others, extended family, nature, elders and ceremony.
When did you start/join it?
What made you want to get involved?
I have been involved in the non-profit sector for quite some time and I am deeply invested in supporting communities that have been racialized and marginalized. I wanted to learn more about Indigenous ways of being and knowing and use my administrative skills and funding acquisition experience to build a strong foundation for the agency to support the amazing and unique work it does in the community.
What was the situation like when you started?
When I started, Oasis was in a precarious situation with limited staff and funding as well as in the midst of the COVID pandemic. The agency was not sure if it would be able to continue providing services.
How has it changed since?
Oasis is thriving. We have an all-Indigenous board of directors as well as all Indigenous staff, with the exception of myself who is a female woman of colour. We have strengthened our funding base for program expenses and wages despite the funding challenges seen since the pandemic. We are increasing staff numbers and expanding our programming to provide a greater range of services and reach. Our staff are very well connected to the communities we serve and their trust in participants and commitment to this work is invaluable.
What more needs to be done?
With the growth of our agency, we have increased administrative and capital costs. These costs are not often covered by funders or are only covered at a percentage (commonly 9-12%) which is insufficient from a sustainability perspective. We need donors and funders to recognize this funding gap which is essential to the continued and effective operation of all non-profit organizations. Unfortunately, the need for services continues to grow and has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Indigenous persons continue to be over-represented in our unhoused population despite only accounting for approximately 5% of the BC population.
How can our readers help?
Donations! Any little bit helps. We are a small agency that is still trying to make our presence known in Greater Victoria. As a result, we are not often the first thought for people when thinking about who to donate to.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity/non-profit that you love?
Family Services of Greater Victoria