All Nations Healing House is the official name of the First Nations Wellness Centre in Williams Lake that opened in November 2022.
A celebration was held Thursday, June 15 to unveil the name and honour the elders from the 15 communities across the region who collaborated to choose the name.
With the end of First Avenue North closed off in the 200 block, the celebration took place under a large activity tent outside with about 100 people in attendance.
Many elders took turns at the podium to say it can be difficult for elders to access doctors and dentists.
Instead of waiting for hours to see a doctor in a hospital emergency department, they have big hopes the wellness centre will help solve that problem.
There was even a suggestion the wellness centre needs to be open 24/7.
“We so appreciate what you elders mean in our community – the Tsilhqot’in, the Secwépemc and Dakelh Dené,” said Ulkatcho First Nation Chief Lynda Price.
“We honour you because we know you hold the wisdom of our communities. It is so valuable, especially as we plan the rebuild of our communities after the impacts of residential school.”
Esket Chief Fred Robbins said the wellness centre could not have been possible without the support of the First Nations Health Authority.
“This project started six years ago with brief discussions about the impact of our hospital and the lack of support services for First Nations communities,” Robbins said.
Lisa Montgomery-Reid, from FNHA, said the name came from the elders working together to find a name that represents and speaks to the purpose and reasons why the wellness centre exists.
“What we heard during engagement was that First Nations people need to feel safe, connected, welcomed and respected when accessing health care sites and services.”
Dr. Doug Cochrane, board chair of Interior Health, said everyone should be proud of the work gone into building the centre.
“It is inspirational and will help us as we build the hospital on the hill so it better serves the people,” he said.
The All Nations Healing House is a partnership with the three Nations, FNHA and the Ministry of Health – under the First Nation-led Primary Care Initiatives.
It is the first net-new primary care centre under this program within B.C., and different because First Nations cultures and understandings of wellness are at the core of the programs, services and operations of the centre, Montgomery-Reid said.