The West Coast Hug Emporium is an interactive social experiment devoted to delivering compassionate, respectful, 100% inclusive, free hug therapy to all willing participants.

Our primary function is to promote the use of Hugs as a way to interact on a deeper level with people in the city, to help the emotional wellbeing of the people in our cities. If you spot us in the street or at a city event, you will find our stand manned by our certified volunteer Hug Advisors, equipped with our hug menu filled with various styles of hugs for your perusal.

Our Hug Advisor Training ensures that our Hug Advisors are familiar with all hugs offered on the menu, and that they will be professional, friendly, knowledgeable, and otherwise embody the values of this project. The training includes verbal knowledge testing and active participation, with an emphasis on establishing and reading personal boundaries, non-violent conflict resolution, and a basic background knowledge of the scientific studies that have been conducted on the benefits of hugging and physical contact.

Inspired by similar projects seen at Burning Man and various other festivals, the West Coast Hug Emporium is dedicated to helping facilitate a shift for the better in the way we interact with others in our cities. We would also like to highlight the various research and studies that have shown the positive phycological and physical effect that happen after engaging in a hug for more than 6 seconds.

Live Installations

We can set up our West Coast Hug Emporium stand at your event to provide entertainment and an attraction to people walking by. Get in contact with us to learn more!

The Hug Zone Project

We make interactive art with the purpose of inspiring more hugs in the city. Check out the Hug Zone Project here !


Want to become a Hug Advisor or arrange Hug Advisor training for your group or organization? Get in contact with us to learn more!

Want to get involved with the West Coast Hug Emporium or have us our at your event? Get in contact with us!

Our Founding Members

Gabriel McCay

Marketing / Public Outreach

Gabriel is the owner and Creative Director of a company called Blue Lotus Creative, which currently provides marketing and website services primarily for organizations and individuals that are helping to change the world for the better.

The West Coast Hug Emporium was inspired by the atmosphere at the Shambhala Music Festival where hugging strangers is considered socially acceptable. Gabriel’s goal with the Hug Emporium is to help make positive physical contact more socially acceptable in Vancouver and throughout the world.

His life goal is simple: “To positively influence as many people as I can during my time on this planet.”


Phil Jones

Logistics / Construction

Phil moved from Toronto to Vancouver three years ago with his daughter and wife. Since then, both have moved back to Toronto leaving him alone, but home at last. The void they left was soon filled when Phil went to BitF 2011 and met the wonderful Burner community there. He has since rekindled the pursuit of his artistic expression. In 2012 he worked with the Animal Party event setting up the second stage, was on the build team for the Entheos festival, and worked on the Pier project which appeared in Black Rock City the same year. 2013 marks the second consecutive year Phil has run Bubble Camp at BitF, and he’s thoroughly excited about sharing, through the West Coast Hug Emporium, the same welcoming, positive energy he felt from the Burner community when he first encountered it in 2011.