The Lodge Project

Building the Lodge

In 2019, following extensive community consultations and zoning approval, Thunder Woman Healing Lodge acquired property in Scarborough on which to build a healing lodge for Indigenous women. In keeping with Indigenous teachings about Respect for the Land, TWHL is striving to develop a Green Building. The six-storey Lodge will be a unique model combining wrap-around supports and transitional housing for formerly incarcerated Indigenous women under one roof. With only two other Indigenous-led healing lodges for Indigenous women in Canada, the Lodge will be the first of its kind in Ontario.

Indigenous Healing Lodges address the rehabilitative needs of Aboriginal people involved with the justice system, by reconnecting culture, spirituality, and communities. 

Toronto’s Indigenous population is a diverse population (First Nations, Inuit, and Metis) estimated at 70,000 individuals. Located at 2217 Kingston Road, the new Thunder Woman Healing Lodge will be part of an incredibly supportive Indigenous and non-Indigenous community. 

Its proximity to the waterfront will be an integral part of the restoration of identity an important focus for the Lodge’s healing and reintegration programming, as Indigenous women are traditionally the keepers of the water.

Indigenous Design Values


As a space of healing, restoration, and reintegration, the building’s architectural design team have striven to incorporate Indigenous cultural values throughout the physical space. Women with lived experience have been deeply engaged in design consultations to ensure the living and programming spaces actively support the effort to overcome trauma and find balance. We look forward to the Lodge becoming a landmark cultural anchor for a vibrant Indigenous community.


Without adequate housing and supports upon release, Indigenous women exiting corrections find themselves living in unsafe, unaffordable, and precarious housing – and vulnerable to the same forces that led to earlier conflict with the law. Obtaining housing, in particular, has been shown to be a critical barrier for formerly incarcerated persons to overcome. Whereas incarceration is an extraordinarily expensive and punitive form of “housing,” affordable tranistional housing with adequate supports provides the tools necessary for individual capacity building and healing. Thunder Woman Healing Lodge will provide 12 beds with wrap-around supports for women exiting corrections or currently before the courts on bail, and an additional 12 affordable residential units for women who have completed the Healing Lodge program but need additional transitional supports to regain independence.


In addition to there being no Indigenous Healing Lodge facilities with the same mandate as TWHL in Ontario, there are currently no half-way houses for women in the Greater Toronto Area that are handicap accessible. If women leaving custody are unable to climb stairs, they are more than likely to be unable to have an early release… TWHL is committed to maximizing accessibility features in the Lodge’s design with barrier-free common areas, central elevators, and multiple units being fully accessible.


Central to the TWHL model are the teachings of our Indigenous ancestors. We must be good caretakers of the earth, not simply for ourselves, but for those who will inherit the earth We are guided by the principle that we should make decisions about how we live today based on how our decisions will impact the future seven generations. With this responsibility we are committed to minimizing the Lodge’s carbon footprint through best practice techniques for energy efficiency and Passive House design. Our “green building” design objective is to be Net Carbon Zero Ready with offsite offsets.

Innovating the Model – A Hybrid Prototype

A Prototype Healing Model

Under One Roof

The Lodge Project is a prototype healing lodge and affordable housing model that incorporates the best practices of the Indigenous healing lodge tradition, a community-based residential healing space, and a transitional rental housing program under one roof.

With only two other Indigenous owned and led healing lodges for women in Canada, Thunder Woman Healing Lodge will be Ontario’s first healing lodge for Indigenous women and the first example of this innovative hybrid model in Canada. 

Quick Facts

The new six-story building will offer 12 beds for women leaving federal and provincial corrections or before the courts on bail, all of whom will participate in the Thunder Woman Healing program and receive wrap-around supports for rehabilitation and reintegration.

The building will also house 12 affordable transitional housing units for women that have completed the healing lodge program but require additional time and support to gain independence. A combination of bachelor, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom units will create flexible rental options for the women.

Many Indigenous women leaving corrections are single parents without family supports and with limited connections to community. Often, mothers with children in provincial care want reunification with their children but need help in building their capacity to do so. Our transitional housing program and partner agencies will provide key supports for this important work.

Making Progress – Project Milestones

The Path to an Open Door

Ontario’s first Indigenous owned and led women’s Healing Lodge is long overdue and the Covid-19 pandemic has made the need clearer than ever!

We’ve come a long way toward making the Lodge a reality since we published our research the community consultations on local needs in 2016 and formally establishing ourselves as an organization. 2019 was a pivotal year with several major breakthroughs to move us definitively toward the Lodge becoming reality.

As we reflect on our journey through crucial project milestones, we still need your support to raise capital funds for upcoming stages! 2020 and 2021 are key years for us to finalize design, break ground and complete construction in time for occupancy in early 2022.

The Milestones of our Journey

2013-2016: Stakeholder Engagement

In 2016, a collaboration of Indigenous service organizations concluded an extensive research and participatory stakeholder engagement study to examine the needs of Indigenous women in conflict with the law in the GTA.

2016: TWHLS Founded

In 2016, what began as an Indigenous community initiative of stakeholder engagement and research took formal shape with TWHLS' incorporation.

Spring 2019: Indigenous Affordable Housing

Miziwe Biik Development Corporation selected the Thunder Woman Healing Lodge project as part of its call for Indigenous Supportive Housing Program in the GTA. This landmark funding approval paved the way for our journey.

Spring-Summer 2019: Community Consultations

In our site search for the Lodge, we focused on Scarborough as the area with the GTA's highest Indigenous population and cultural service organizations. We held a number of neighbourhood information sessions and town halls to discuss the Lodge and its goals.

Summer-Fall 2019: Zoning Approved

The approval of our zoning application for our proposed site at 2217 Kingston Road by the City was a major milestone - and an emotional one! We did it!

Fall 2019: Open Door Selection

Recognizing the crucial role that housing access represents in reducing recidivism, Toronto City Council approved the recommendation of its Affordable Housing Office to award funding to TWHL for the construction of the Healing Lodge.

Spring-Summer 2019: Community Consultations

In our site search for the Lodge, we focused on Scarborough as the area with the GTA's highest Indigenous population and cultural service organizations. We held a number of neighbourhood information sessions and town halls to discuss the Lodge and its goals.

December 2019: Land Purchased

To close out 2019, TWHLS finalized the purchase for the site of its future home at 2217 Kingston Road, Toronto. It was a great way to end the year.

Winter 2019: IHII Selection

TWHLS was one of only 24 projects selected from 342 applicants to participate in the Indigenous Homes Innovation Initiative, supporting ideas that can lead to better homes or living spaces for Indigenous communities.

Summer-Fall 2020: Land Blessing

With Covid-19, we've had to change our approach to the Land Blessing Ceremony we intended. Consulting with Elders, we are looking at new ways to approach our traditional practices.

Summer-Fall 2020: Design & Permits

Our architectural team of Susan Speigel Architecture Inc. and Smoke Architecture have been working collaboratively with Indigenous women of lived experience to design a space that will reflect our cultural values and support personal healing.

Early 2025: Grand Opening

We're looking forward to kicking off 2025 by opening our doors and welcoming our first cohort of Indigenous women on their journey from the correctional system into a safe environment in which to heal.

Late 2020 through 2024: Construction

Once we break ground, the building will really start to take shape. Our goal is to ensure that as much of the project's investment as possible is retained with the Indigenous community. We'll working with key Aboriginal partners to do so!

The Fundraising Campaign

Help Open New Doors

As Indigenous women, we believe the best way to reduce our over-representation in Canada’s jails is to increase our opportunities to thrive.

Your support will complete our capital campaign and dream to build a one-of-a-kind healing lodge for Indigenous women in the GTA. With support from Aboriginal partners, government, and community philanthropy, we are nearly half way toward our $14.5 Million goal. We need your support to break ground in 2023 and open Thunder Woman Healing Lodge.

Funding Partners

We are grateful for the support of our donors and funding partners – private individuals, Indigenous organizations, government agencies, and corporations:

  • The generosity of private donors

  • Miziwe Biik Development Corporation

  • Indigenous Housing Innovation Initiative

  • City of Toronto: Open Door Program

  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

  • Bank of Montreal – Indigenous Banking

Truth & Reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls upon the federal government to eliminate barriers to the creation of additional healing lodges within the federal correction system. It also calls upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work with Aboriginal communities to provide culturally-relevant services to inmates on issues such as substance abuse, family and domestic violence, and overcoming the experience of having been sexually abused.

We invite allied government agencies to take transformative action, as identified by the TRC, by supporting TWHL’s mission and vision to provide First Nation, Inuit, and Metis women offenders with safe spaces and a continuum of culturally-appropriate supports accessible to the Greater Toronto Area to heal and reclaim positive cultural identity, rehabilitation, and wellness.