Children’s Health Foundation will soon have a home away from home in Campbell River.

The foundation has a similar home in Victoria called Jeneece Place. Campbell River’s home away from home is named Qwalayu House. Coralie Stern, director of marketing and communications for the foundation says “Qwalayu” is a term of endearment Elders use when they speak of babies and children as their reason for being. 

Families, healthcare providers, and community groups from the North Island saw the success of Jeneece Place. They then decided a home away from home is what North Island families need, especially when coming to the Campbell River hospital. 

The home will have 10 bedrooms and welcome families and expectant mothers. The foundation says research has found that there is a high number of mothers under 20 in the North Island region than anywhere on the island, which is why they are building the home in Campbell River. 

Children’s Health Foundation launched a $7 million fundraising campaign to build Qwalayu House. Stern says the money is to build and equip the home, but the funds will also be used for the home’s operating costs for the first five years. 

“The home itself won’t be $7 million, but it does cost a lot of money to be able to properly equip the home, with appliances and furniture,” Stern said.

She adds Qwalayu House is one of the foundation’s larger campaigns. 

“We’re really looking to the community and saying, ‘can you help us see this come to life?’. We’re actually very fortunate that we’ve had an anonymous donor step forward with a gift of $3 million. So we’ve had this fantastic and generous gift come in, and we really hope that’s the catalyst so other people can make a gift and help match that, and help us be that much closer to our goals.” 

Stern says the foundation hopes to start construction by this spring. The goal is to have Qwalayu House up and running by spring 2021. 

Island Health is partnering with the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island for the project. Island Health donated a large parcel of land just behind Yucalta Lodge, which is where the home will be built. 

“Island Health is proud to be a partner in this amazing project,” Leah Hollins Island Health’s board chair said.

“Qwalayu House will reduce the burden on families during trying times and the long-term land license granted by Island Health will ensure this project benefits the community for decades to come.”