Stoney Nakoda First Nation elders, dignitaries, Stoney Health staff and others were in attendance April 11 for a ground-breaking blessing to celebrate the announcement of an $11 million project expansion that will almost double the size of the Stoney Health Centre.
“Îsniyes (thank you) to chiefs Dixon, Poucette, Young, and the Stoney Tribal Council for understanding the community’s needs and fully supporting this much-needed expansion,” says Aaron Khan, Stoney Health Services CEO at today’s blessing. “We also thank Indigenous Services Canada for approving our funding request and joining us today.”
Chief Aaron Young of the Chiniki First Nation stated, “The community has grown significantly since we first opened the Health Centre first opened its doors in 1998 and must grow to continue to meet this and future demand of our People.”
Statistics Canada, Census 2006, 2011, and 2016 shows the current Stoney Nakoda First Nations reserve population is 5,084, recording a steadily growing population, health care needs, and programs now exceed the physical capacity of the Stoney Health Centre, a 215% growth in demand from 2017 to 2020 alone.
The current facility offers triage, medical examination, x-ray and laboratory, meeting and consultation rooms combined with a pharmacy, optometry and dental offices and administrative spaces.
Further, Elders, seniors and some younger Nation members are challenged with complex medical needs that require and deserve health care provided locally, in a culturally supportive environment. Stoney Health can, and will continue to support their needs, as we grow in to this new space.
“We recognize that many of our Nation’s people face challenges in getting care and we want to be sure that we protecting and improve the health and wellness opportunities for our Peoples for the future,” said Chief Clifford Poucette of the Wesley First Nation.
Bearspaw First Nation Chief Darcy Dixon further added, “This expansion means so much to our communities – our children, grandchildren and their grandchildren’s health – today, tomorrow and the future.”
The traditional Stoney ceremony included a blessing led by several pipe holders followed by a drum circle and singers who performed several honour songs. Additional entertainment by local dancers.
Stoney Health also provides a broad range of culturally-sensitive, community-based activities focused on promoting health and injury/illness prevention, maternal, child, youth, adult and elder health activities and programs.
The centre will be 22,000 sq. ft. and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.