Breaking ground for a new Snuneymuxw First Nation health centre was a dream come true for former health administrator Sandra Good, who spent years trying to advance the facility.
“I really felt overwhelmed because it’s like a dream come true for the people, for my community members, my elders, myself,” she said. “It’s been many years of hard work not just by myself, but of all the people that have been involved, many chiefs and council.”
Snuneymuxw community members, leaders and health workers gathered at the site of a future health centre at Longhouse and MacMillan roads in Cedar on Wednesday to mark the official start of construction. Elder Lolly Good, whose Hul’q’umi’num name is Shxuysulwut, gave a prayer, which was followed by speeches, overturning the soil, and a meal.
With funding from the First Nations Health Authority, the Snuneymuxw are building a $3-million, 8,400-square foot facility on reserve that’s designed to have services like a drop-in medical clinic, pharmacy, lab and dentist office that could be open to the general public.
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Kate Good, a councillor who works in the current health facility on Nanaimo’s Centre Street, said she thinks the community has outgrown that space and needs a bigger facility and thanked Sandra Good and Charles Nelson, the current health administrator, for pushing the project through.
Regan Seward, councillor, said it’s been a long time coming for the building, pointing out there had been a lot eliminated because of space in the present building, which was constructed in 1999.
“With the help of our health director and chief and council we’re going to keep pushing forward to move forward in a better way so our people can get the best care they can in the new health centre that’s coming,” he said.
Sandra Good, also a former Snuneymuxw councillor, saidthere’s limited space where the centre is currently at and added she’s grateful Nelson was the administrator who carried out the wishes of the community.
“Many elders have passed now since we started to do this,” she said. “Our ancestors they were standing with us so that’s why I felt really emotional because we’ve lost so many people and some of them due to lack of good quality medical care, so we’re really hoping with our new health centre we’re a part of improving health care for this community.”
Construction is expected to be complete in 2018.