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.

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Why It Matters

The over-incarceration of Indigenous women is a national travesty! READ MORE...

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:

  • Healing
  • Affordability
  • Accessibility
  • Environment

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.

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.