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Vancouver brings mixed-use library branch and community housing to the Downtown Eastside

VPL Strathcona branchThe Vancouver Public Library’s nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona branch officially opened its doors on April 19, following a Coast Salish ceremony.

The unique Downtown Eastside building – funded by the VPL, the City of Vancouver, and the YWCA Metro Vancouver – combines an 11,000-square-foot library branch with community-programming spaces and affordable housing for low-income single mothers and their children. The budget for the project was $28.5 million, with $18.3 million of the cost allocated to the library.

The library will be the first public building in the city to carry an Indigenous name. The phrase “nə́c̓aʔmat ct” means “we are one” in the hǝn̓q̓ǝmin̓ǝm̓ language of the Indigenous Coast Salish peo­ple, who hold traditional territory claims to the area. In a March 2016 interview with Quill & Quire, VPL’s neighbourhood services manager Beth Davies said, “I think some of the things that make this name less straightforward, in a way, make it a bit more meaningful. It’s appropriate that it needs us to do some work [to pronounce] it.”