Rob Sam clears space for the blessing ceremony on the land that will be the new health centre at Tsartlip First Nation.

Rob Sam clears space for the blessing ceremony on the land that will be the new health centre at Tsartlip First Nation.

Tsartlip dig for health

The Tsartlip First Nation held a traditional ground breaking for a new health centre.



Elaborate rattles provide percussion as four blanketed people sing a song that ends in handshakes among the relatives.

The two men and two women singing provided a blessing on the land as the Tsartlip First Nation held a traditional ground breaking for a new health centre.

“This kind of work … it’s important before we even go to the construction, we always have to give thanks to the ground, the earth,” explained a blanket-clad Tom Sampson. The blessing was a mix of local and Cowichan First Nation traditions, to bless what Sampson called the “modern healing house”.

The centre is about eight years in coming, said chief Ivan Morris, who hopes to see it completed in six months.

“It’s a tremendous benefit to our community because we have bettered the services. Help which is something that’s really needed here,” Morris said. “The population in our community is growing every year. So the more services we can get the better for our community.”

The building will sit along Boat Ramp Road, near the existing administration office, with a spacious parking lot.

It will include a traditional healing room, office space for the many ongoing programs at Tsartlip health that including physical and emotional health ranging from prenatal to eldercare.

“It’s something we’ve been looking forward to a long, long time,” Morris said.