The Tsartlip First Nation officially opened their new community and health care building Sept. 28 during a traditional blessing ceremony.
The construction of the centre was long overdue, noted Health Canada Regional Director, Yosuf Ali, during a speech at the opening, and he highlighted the fact that having strong community leaders within Tsartlip is what helped them realize the dream of having the facility.
“It’s the community leaders that made it their priority to have good health care for everyone,” Ali said. “These (types of services) don’t just come about on their own.”
According to Tsartlip first nation Chief Ivan Wayne Morris, the community population of Tsartlip is growing, and is the largest First Nation on Southern Vancouver Island. This past year the community saw a rise in Elder deaths, including his mother’s passing, which impacted the community. He noted having health services within their community will help members be able to source proper medical care.
“The health of our people is (a) priority. This (building) is another good start for the community to re-build and enhance the programs that service such a large population of youth and Elders,” he said. “We hope to continue focusing on culturally-driven programs and collaborate with Vancouver Island Health Authority for future programs.”
The facility was built with the support of Health Canada’s First Nations Health Branch and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the federal government also funded the project with a contribution of more than $2 million.
The project was first discussed more than five years ago and ground was broken on the project just over a year ago.