Skwachàys Lodge: Tourism supporting Indigenous artists
David Eddy is the founder and CEO of Skwachàys Lodge. Skwachàys Lodge is a social enterprise that integrates three components: an Indigenous Art Gallery, a hotel, and an artists-in-residence program. David is extremely proud of the business model that he and his team have created. “These components work symbiotically. They work together. Through the profits of the hotel and the gallery, we create revenue to subsidize the 24 artists and residents, painters, carvers, textile artists, singers, dancers; we’ve built a community of artists here. We want it to be an authentic Aboriginal place, and we want it to provide some service to indigenous folks to develop personally and professionally.”
In June of 2012, the Skwachàys Lodge & Residence opened in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, transforming a derelict 3 and a half storey hotel to a magnificent 7 floor architectural masterpiece. The never before attempted marriage of Victorian and Indigenous heritage in this structure is a source of pride and an iconic beacon for Indigenous people in the downtown eastside.
Skwachàys Lodge is owned and operated by Vancouver Native Housing Society (of which Eddy is also the CEO). The top three floors of the lodge contain 18 boutique hotel units for socially responsible travellers. At street level, the gallery showcases Indigenous artistic and cultural work. The lodge also has its own rooftop sweat lodge and smudge room used for spiritual cleansing, a studio/workshop production space, and a commercial kitchen.
David believes this social enterprise model is one that could be replicated to support indigenous populations all over the world. “Last year, Time magazine created a list of the hundred greatest places in the world. And we’re on the list. We get press from all over the world. It’s important because it kind of shows what can be done and what you can bring to the world. This is a scalable and portable model. It can go really anywhere in the world where there’s a significant indigenous population and areas that would be amenable to tourism.”
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