The Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nations community opened a state-of-the-art health-care facility Thursday.
Unofficially called the Sage Building due to its colour, but officially named Tl’etinqox Health Services, opened to much fanfare in spite of the poor weather conditions.
“We were almost on the verge of getting snowed out but we went ahead with it (the grand opening). It turned out the health building and the gymnasium were packed,” says Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse.
“I think the community was pretty excited.”
The new health facility is approximately three or four times larger than the old one and replaces a trailer that, for a period of time, was not in use due to the fact that it was partially burnt and had significant mould issues.
The $2.5 million building is considered to be one of the most energy efficient buildings in the province on reserve land, says Alphonse.
Those accolades aside, it’s the health services that will be offered in the building that the community is focussing on.
Anaham had its first visit from a family doctor on the Wednesday prior to the opening.
“There was quite a roomful of people come for routine checkups. That was the first time in five years we had a doctor come to our community,” Alphonse says.
Alphonse sees this as just the beginning and says there are plans to regularly bring in a doctor, dentist and chiropractor a few times a week to care for Anaham members and others who live in the Chilcotin.
“If we want to be a part of the larger society we have a role to play as well.
“If we can do anything to improve the lives of the people who reside in the Chilcotin, by all means we should do it and I would be honoured to do it.”
For now, Health Canada staff operating at Alexis Creek has also moved into the new health centre, making three nurses available instead of one.
The facility further provides recreational and social opportunities for the youth and for elders alike including a youth worker who provides recreational programming, as well as opportunities to partake in traditional activities such as mask carving, buckskin sewing, beading and learning to play the drums.
“Our elders are coming into the health centre building two days a week and having a beading club so a lot of elders are getting back to the beading they used to do.
“Some of our members used to tan hides and are getting back to that. It’s creating an excitement,” Alphonse says.
Additionally, during the construction phase of the project, approximately 10 community members were given the chance to learn new skills.