The new health facility for the community of Yunesit’in (Hanceville) officially opened Nov. 2.
The $2-million building features a traditional room for medicine and some First Nations practices, room for an alcohol and drug program, a nursing station, home support and rooms for specialists, such as optometrists who may visit one or two days a month. There is also space for prenatal and postnatal aftercare.
“It will be a facility for the whole area, Yunesit’in and Tlet’ingox (Anaham),” Chief Russell Ross Myers said. “At the opening we had the architect, people from Health Canada, and some of our leaders that have helped with the project from the very beginning.”
Anaham opened a similar facility a year ago, and Toosey (Riske Creek) will be opening one next. The new buildings have come about as Health Canada begins to transfer health authority to First Nations, Ross Myers said.
“Situating health buildings in First Nations communities and having some of the Health Canada transfers to those communities will allow people in those communities to recognize their own health needs and be able to help design and envision health services.”
First Nations history has involved land alienation or a forced loss of traditional livelihood, and many health illnesses are related to those historic factors, Ross Myers explained.
“Having health planning happening in the community with people who understand what happened to our people and why we’re in those situations will be a benefit.”
There isn’t a name for the new facility yet. Construction was completed last month and since then the community has been ironing out the kinks in the building, Ross Myers added.