About Watari

facilitating positive change in our community
About Watari

Watari Counselling & Support Services Society is a registered, charitable social-profit organization established in 1986 in a response to a lack of services and programs for street involved youth and families.  Invested in creating space for change we are guided by a belief in the individual's innate strengths, capabilities and desire for wellness.

Working within a community-development model to address locally identified needs, Watari services focus primarily on populations affected by substance misuse or mental health issues.  Other related service areas include family strengthening, cultural enrichment, and community/public education projects. Watari's dedicated employees and volunteer Board of Directors, operate several on-going programs in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver, in addition to pilot projects that operate throughout the community.

Intentionally named, watari is a Japanese word meaning ‘small bridge’ or ‘in transition’. It is the goal of all staff to be the bridge to opportunities, options and choices for the individuals we work with in this diverse community.


Our mission is to facilitate meaningful change and provide a bridge to healthier possibilities through innovative, community driven and supportive programming.


Watari’s service is trauma-informed and based on an individual’s innate strengths, capabilities, and desire for wellness. We encourage an exploration and deeper understanding of self and community, so that people can make informed choices


  • To provide opportunities to the people we support that allow them to see themselves as competent and capable.
  • To deliver respectful, individualized service.
  • To empower the people we support by encouraging relationships with service providers, family and community members.
  • To work within a community development model to address personal and collective change.
  • To provide trauma sensitive work environments for both staff and the people we support.


Watari embraces diversity as an integral part of being a caring community.   We are committed to building and maintaining a diverse, accessible, civil and supportive environment by including diversity of religion, gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, age and socioeconomic class.

To this end, we will make positive efforts to reach out to groups that have traditionally been under-represented and who can enrich and be enriched by their experience at Watari. At Watari we encourage  behaviours that enhance the freedom and respect that every individual deserves.


A full history of Watari's activties in the Downtown Eastside, and surrounding communities since 1989, can be read here!