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HeroWork transforms industrial building into celebration of Indigenous group's important work

An old cast and die shop has been transformed into a celebration of Indigenous culture.

An old cast and die shop has been transformed into a celebration of Indigenous culture.

After a massive $640,000 renovation by 500 HeroWork volunteers, the Indigenous Perspectives Society will continue its work in a culturally relevant and beautifully renovated space on Granderson Road in Langford. The non-profit organization trains social workers and caregivers, fostering a deeper understanding of Indigenous perspectives and cultural differences.

“The Indigenous Perspectives Society bought it a couple of decades ago. They did a renovation on it, but the building was not really suited to what they were doing. It felt very institutional,” HeroWork founder Paul Latour said Saturday.

“You walked in and it felt like any other office space with dropped ceilings and fluorescent lighting. … We wanted to celebrate Indigenous culture, and not just one community. All communities in B.C. were brought into the aesthetic design.”

HeroWork, a charity that completes radical renovations for other charities, had their first conversation with Indigenous Perspectives Society three-and-a half years ago, said Latour.

“They had questions for us and asked about possibilities,” Latour recalled. “They were trying to decide — do we purchase a new building, do we renovate this building. What are the possibilities?”

Indigenous Perspectives Society, formerly known as the Caring for First Nations Children Society, did their own feasibility study and decided they wanted to work with HeroWork, said Latour.

“One of the important parts of this build was to bring a cultural relevance to the building because of the deep and vulnerable work that they do,” he said.

On Saturday, HeroWork gave guided tours of the building to small groups. They witnessed what 5,000 volunteer hours can accomplish.

“Some had been here in the fall so the transformation was amazing to what it was before. People’s jaws dropped. The beauty of the place is amazing,” said Latour.

Residential school survivor Eddy Charlie and friend Kristin Spray, who initiated Victoria Orange Shirt Day, were among those getting the guided tour.

“When they walked in, they felt that the space was right,” said Latour.

When HeroWork first got involved in the project, Latour asked his staff to take the training offered by Indigenous Perspectives Society to learn the history of colonization, the residential school system, the 60s scoop and how society can move forward today to help foster reconciliation.

The exterior of the building has been transformed by $14,000 worth of cedar. There are new floors. The electrical and lighting systems have been completely redone. The training space is open so staff will be able to provide training to more people at a time.

“We’re all super excited to be at this stage,” Latour said.

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