Esdilagh (Alexandria) First Nation is getting a new community and health centre, replacing the band office that was destroyed by a suspicious fire a year and a half ago.
“It’s been quite hard on the community without a permanent building,” said Nits’il?in ?Esdilagh Chief Bernie Mack.
Recently the band and health offices have been housed in portable trailers donated by Taseko Mines Ltd. and the First Nations Health Authority.
And partial funding for the new building is also coming from the FNHA which Mack said the community is very thankful for.
“The FNHA is proud to support the ?Esdilagh First Nation after the devastating fire in 2014 destroyed the band’s only community building,” said Curt Walker, FNHA chief administrative officer.
“This new health facility is a good example of the collaboration that takes place with our partner communities to ensure health initiatives and programs are accessible to all First Nations and Aboriginal peoples living across the province.”
David Nairne and Associates Ltd., who has designed several buildings in other Tsilhqot’in communities, met with the First Nations Health Authority and band members to come up with the building’s design.
It will feature a circular lodge entrance, a space for making and storing medicines, a spiritual space, a medical examination room, additional mental health space and a large gathering area.
“It is going to be a big step toward focusing on our own wellness,” Mack said, noting the building should be completed by July 2016.
With the new building the community hopes to expand its drug and alcohol abuse counselling programs.
“We are looking to have an office space to offer private meetings for our community members,” Mack said.
“We also work with Nenqayni Wellness Centre who comes into our community to provide training so this will add to that by having office space for mental health and drug and alcohol staff.”
In the fire the band lost many records and documents which has made it a big challenge preparing for audits.
“We’ve been struggling like crazy to try and get as much documents back as we can because it’s going to hit our funding.”
In the meantime Mack said the band has prepared a management action plan with Aboriginal Affairs Canada.
“We were an all paper office but we will be getting computers, scanners and training for filing and policy on documentation as a result of the fire.”
The new building will be made of materials that don’t burn easily.
“The old one was a log structure,” Mack added.