After two long years, the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation finally cut the ribbon on a brand new health centre facility.
A collection of buildings on the reserve just outside of Fort Fraser boasts sixteen administration offices, new office spaces, for doctor’s and nurses, along with four classrooms, and new council chambers.
The facility is set to provide instant care to members of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation and anyone else in need in the Fort Fraser area.
It’s especially impactful for Monica Buchanan who lives on the reserve and suffered a stroke in 2009. She used to be forced to go to Vancouver for treatment, but now she can take a much shorter trip down the road from her home. “It’s nice to have access to nursing and the doctors, they come in once a week or something, they have physio appointments, and a gym for the kids so that will keep them fit too,” she said. “I’m proud of our workers for giving this back to our community, it’s beautiful and I hope it serves everyone purposefully.”
Community Health Responder, Lisa Ketlo has been in the process of organizing many of the services the new centre will provide. She says a doctor will visit once a week every Friday with nurses working two and a half days each week as well.
Services provided include mental health assistance, family counseling, and physiotherapy initiatives. “That prevents isolation, it helps have communication between professionals, providers, and band membership so that people know what services are available,” Ketlo said.
Chief of the Nadleh Whut’en, Larry Nooski, is proud to see the building come together. His council agreed on a final vote to help bring new opportunities to the people of the area.”I think it’s really going to provide some stimulus for other people and other nations that come here to use this facility as their meeting place,” he said. “It will create some interest and hopefully we can also attract some tourism that passes through here.”
Nooski added that the facility will now house hereditary elders and chiefs of the Nadleh Whut’en as a way of keeping their culture alive. “It’s one big building that’s going to house, health, education, and band administration, so it’s a very multi-purpose house for our governance structure – it’s home.”
One of the most notable areas of the centre includes the main entrance with a full artifacts display area. Arnold Peters was one of the main carpenters helping to develop the area with artifacts up to 900 years old. “It displays what has come from this reserve, the stories, how things we’re brought up, the hunting the fishing and all of the language here,” he said.
The Nadleh Whut’en First Nation says around 30 people will be working in the facility at any given time and with the right maintenance, they estimate the entire complex should be usable for a minimum of 100 years.