Tseshaht First Nations singing, drumming and dancing celebrated the new amenity at West Coast General Hospital. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Culturally safe space opens at West Coast General Hospital

New amenity welcomes Indigenous cultural approach to healing

MIKE YOUDS

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

Hugs, smiles and heartfelt songs accompanied the opening on Oct. 11 of a culturally safe space for First Nation families at West Coast General Hospital.

Known as the All Nations Room, the facility is one of three such spaces opening at Island hospitals, the first of more to come across the province, health officials said.

“Today’s event is something that’s been a long time coming but it was partners working together that helped to get us to where we are today,” said Brennan MacDonald of First Nations Health Authority.

The project began five years ago when a cultural safety committee, including half a dozen representatives of area First Nations, was formed to look at opportunities for improvements at West Coast General. Their work culminated in a ceremony that filled the hospital atrium with rhythm and music on Friday.

Accommodating a traditional Indigenous approach to health care recognizes the value of traditional healing practices and responds to calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, remedies intended to close a glaring gap in health outcomes.

Just two generations back, Canada’s health care was racially segregated. Nanaimo Indian Hospital, now the focus of a class action suit against the federal government, was but one example, a virtual apartheid system notorious for inferior care, deplorable conditions and abuse. Even in more recent years, there was little provision at most hospitals for the wide circle of family care, traditions and practices integral to Indigenous healing, though rules and restrictions were eased in more recent years.

“This is one step closer to being able to do that,” said Judith Sayers, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president. “We bring the medicine, the love and the caring it takes to get better.”

“It’s a milestone in our journey together,” said Dr. Dorothy Williams, WCGH chief of staff.

West Coast General Hospital Foundation provided $10,000 for furnishings. The room is available around the clock on a first come, first served basis.

This story has been edited to reflect the fact the healing room does not need to be booked in advance, as was stated in a previous version.

 

Visitors tour the newly opened All Nations Room at West Coast General Hospital. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

Just Posted

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘optimistic’ about Bamfield road upgrades

Premier John Horgan travelled Bamfield Main to Anacla

Premier John Horgan stops in Port Alberni

Horgan headed to Bamfield to discuss road improvements

CMHA Port Alberni to launch community clean-up crew

CMHA received a $51,500 grant from city

Hotel California tribute band stops in Port Alberni

Eagles tribute band brings rock and roll classics to ADSS Theatre

Alberni Golf Club to host Iron Person tournament

Course will be slightly tougher; open to all ages of golfers including non-members

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

Use of force deemed justifiable in arrest of suspect after snowy chase near Nanaimo

Independent Investigation Office of B.C. reports on incident from late last winter

Most Read