The new health centre is a culturally safe place for healing located on the northside reserve
After many years in the works, Lheidli T’enneh First Nation has officially opened its own Health Centre in its northside subdivision.
The brand new building was opened with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dolleen Logan, members of Prince George city council, as well as health centre staff and elders.
“It’s been a very long journey,” said Chief Logan, who recalls the project was first approved in 2015 at her first official meeting on Lheidli T’enneh council.
She said the project hit some bumps in the road and was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply issues but was finally completed this fall.
“This has been a long time coming. Our membership is going to just love it. It’s an amazing building and it’s a place for our community to come, have tea, and be comfortable,” said Logan.
She said the Health Centre represents a sense of ownership in the community and is a safe space for Lheidli T’enneh membership to come and see a doctor.
“It’s very important that everyone can come here and get help because some of our Elders have trust issues, and this place is a safe place for them to be comfortable.”
Before the ribbon was officially cut, Lheidli T’enneh Elder Ron Pierreroy presented a special gift of a painting his brother and sister-in-law found in a church in Fort. St. James.
He said the painting was just sitting in the foyer of the church and no one knew where it came from.
“Now I’m here to give it back to the members of the Lheidli T’enneh and it is a picture of Granny Seymour and it has her birth and baptismal certificate on the back,” said Pierreroy.
Granny Seymour (Margaret Mary Boucher) is the most hounered Elder of the Lheidli T’enneh and was born in 1852.
She had vast traditional knowledge of healing medicines and lived until she was 114, when she passed away in 1966.
“I feel like that is a really great way to open up our health centre and bring us back to our ancestors who guided us and who passed on the traditional knowledge,” said Tamara Seymour, Lheidli T’enneh Health Director.
“I think that is one of our focuses as a health team to revitalize our culture and to enhance healing and heighten our unity as a community.”
The health centre will staff a community nurse and two doctors as well as Lheidli T’enneh health staff and mobile support workers from Northern Health that come in every second week.
It also features two patient examination rooms, offices, a boardroom, lab room for water testing and medical supplies, accessible bathrooms with lifts for Elder care, a mobile support room for counseling, kitchen, and meeting rooms.
“We are still in the process of making it comfortable for everyone and we only really moved in not even two weeks ago, so we are still setting up and making it cozy,” explained Seymour.
The Health Centre also features a cultural room which is set up for practicing traditional knowledge and is meant to be an inviting space for Elders to gather and spend time.
“I think its important for us to spend time together. Over the last three years we have been really isolated from one another so now with this building it gives the opportunity to meet more often and to invite our members for lunches and programs,” said Seymour.
“We host beading nights and I think it gives a bigger space for that so I would like to say it’s going to be a hub for healing together as one.”