Who We Are

We support the mental health of refugees who arrive in British Columbia with psychological trauma as a result of torture, political violence, and other forms of persecution on the basis of race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Starting with a group of human rights activists and mental health workers gathered in Vancouver to support refugees arriving from the armed conflicts in Central America, in 1986, the Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture (“VAST”) turned the BC’s largest centre for refugee mental health.

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countries (even more) in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are origins of refugees VAST works with nowadays.

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languages are supported by our programs and services, including Arabic, Farsi, French, Mandarin, and Spanish.

Offered Services

VAST provides trauma recovery services and a Healing Community, with either group support or individual counselling. VAST wellness support services are provided at no cost, for individuals or families in need. Usually VAST will refer out to one of our partners for individuals dealing with an active addiction, or for couples therapy, or family therapy (although we may be available to work with all members of the family).

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@rosiefraser?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Rosie Fraser</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/group-therapy?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>
Individual & Group Support
We provide trauma-focused psychological counselling in one-on-one and in group. Psycho-education, emotion self-regulation, and information sharing prepare  clients for the refugee claim and settlement process.
Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@homajob?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Scott Graham</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/paper-document?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>
Support with Documentation
We provide documentation of evidence of psychological trauma for the refugee claim process. We work with our clients (and their lawyers) to document symptoms of psychological trauma to support their refugee claim.
Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@timmarshall?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Tim Marshall</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/community%5C?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>
Community Building & Referrals
We provide referrals to health, housing, and settlement services. We work with our community partners in the health and social services sectors to create a network to support our clients’ basic needs.
Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@alexisrbrown?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Alexis Brown</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/education-for-work?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>
Building Capacity & Education
We provide training and professional development workshops on refugee mental health for health and social service providers, and students. We work on committees to advance the rights of refugees.

Groups of work

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Getting Through It
A group to support refugee claimants during the entire refugee claim process
Now What
A group to build community and promote well-being as you resettle in Canada
Move & Relax
A movement session to help you find physical and mental balance and reduce stress
Welcome to VAST/ أهلاً بكم في فاست
A psychosocial Support Orientation Session for Arabic Speakers
Grupo Para Familias Latinas
A support group for the Latino Community focused on stress management and community-building
I Belong Counselling Group
A safe group space for the LGBTQ+ Community
Beyond Borders and Binaries Group
A group for Non-Binary clients
Survivors Advocate Program
A training program for folks with lived experience who wish to become an advocate.
Womens Survivor Resource Network
Group of women who came from armed conflict areas, and are working on empowering themselves to provide support to newcomers
Art Making in Community
A place to make art and heal in community
VAST Outdoors Group
Group walks in nature to promote physical and mental health
Arte en comunidad
Un grupo para hacer arte y sanar en comunidad.
Movimiento y relajación
Una sesión de movimiento para ayudarte a encontrar tu balance físico y mental y reducir tu estrés
Y ahora que?
Un grupo para promover tu bienestar en comunidad mientras te reasientas en Canadá
Atraviésalo
Un grupo para apoyar a los clamantes de refugio durante todo su proceso de refugio
Latino group (Grupo antiestrés para familias latinas en español)
Un grupo focalizado en el manejo del estrés durante la pandemia para toda la comunidad latina
Vast outdoor group
Grupo de caminatas al aire libre para promover la salud física y mental

Understand More About Us

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about VAST and the work we do to support refugee mental health and the survivors of torture.

What does VAST do?
What is the definition of ‘refugee’?
How is torture defined?
What are the effects of torture?
How does VAST assist refugees and other newcomers?
How many people does VAST support each year?
Who are your clients?
What languages do your clients speak?
What age groups come to VAST?
I am currently living outside of Canada. How can VAST help me?
What does “Healing is an Act of Resistance” mean?
I want to support the work VAST does. How can I help?
What volunteer opportunities are available?
How can I become a volunteer?
How does VAST support LGBTQ* Refugees?
Who is a protected person?

Current Campaigns & Events

As a community-based organization and registered British Columbia not-for-profit Society, VAST is dedicated to engaging and involving members of the community in the work of the organization.

#HealingIsResistence
It takes great courage, strength, and resiliency to begin the work needed to heal from trauma, both mental and physical.
#ShareYourStrength
Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts
Annual Running is coming
The ScotiaBank 5K and Half Marathon will happen this year on June 23rd, 2019.
Barbecue in the Summer
VAST Annual Summer Barbecue, July 21st, 2018, 4-7 pm at the Trout Lake.