More than twenty-five years ago, the first resident was admitted to Columbia House. Several hundred people have come and gone during that period of time. We know that many have recovered and live in the community. Others have not been able to recover to the point where they are able to live independently in the community. Columbian Centre Society ensures that they have an opportunity to try.
In the early 1970's, under the auspices of the White Cross Society, Evelyn Hepinstall encouraged volunteers to visit patients on the Psychiatric Unit of the Nanaimo General Hospital. One of the primary problems identified by the patients was the need for a safe place to go upon their discharge from the hospital. To answer this need, a group of concerned citizens formed the Columbian Centre Society. The Society was incorporated on March 11th, 1977. Its stated purpose was to provide both a suitable residential environment and a program which would assist people discharged from psychiatric treatment centres to make a successful re-entry into their community.
The Knights of Columbus were instrumental in Columbia House’s development. Our Society’s name reflects that legacy. Similarly, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation as well as B.C. Housing have played important roles in the creation and maintenance of our resources.
Over the years since Columbia House was established, the Columbian Centre acquired four additional residences in order to provide a continuum of care and recovery.
Our other projects provide varying degrees of staff support with the objective of aiding the residents to achieve their highest level of independence. Columbia House remains the only licensed residential facility with 24/7 staffing in the Nanaimo area.
As the population of Nanaimo has grown, the Columbian Centre has been asked to provide services to individuals with a higher acuity of mental illness. The Society has responded to this changing need and hopes to increase its capacity to assist individuals to transition into community life.