This was originally published in Gwailis (October) 2019 Dootilh. 

The construction of the new Haisla Health Centre should be finished this winter, according to Project Manager James Derkson.

“Really, the only thing left to do is get the siding on the exterior, do the glazing in the front, and do the interior finishes,” he said. “The building is mostly enclosed; we just need to get the heat on.”

But it will take some time for the department to move in and be ready to serve patients. For that reason, the new centre won`t be up and running until spring 2020. Community will be informed of the grand opening closer to the date.

Construction projects are not always welcome by neighbours, because of the noise and impact on local businesses.

But Derkson said the Haisla community has been very accommodating and easy to work in.

The project, which began in early December 2018, has gone considerably well, he said.

“It’s been a really positive atmosphere. It’s been a really good experience for our guys on site,” he said, adding that community members across the street even made and shared lunch with workers some days.

As for the weather, he said. “We were anticipating the snow but then last winter, it was brutal with the cold snaps. So we shut down a little bit.”

Other than that, though, the site only shut down when there was a loss or funeral in the community.

Derkson works for Ledcor, the general contractor for the project, which is responsible for over- all site management and the hiring of subcontractors such as electricians and plumbers. Local contractors who have worked on site include Daudet Creek Contracting, 101 Industries, Viking Construction, and Acadia Mechanical (from Terrace).

About 10 Haisla members also worked on the project as temporary labourers when needed, Derkson said.

“Kitimat Valley Institute has resumes so when we needed help, they would find someone to help us for a few days,” Derkson said. “We don’t have enough work for full-time employment but a few of them helped out throughout the months.”

The design of the new Health Centre is based on traditional longhouse buildings from the area.

“The architect from DK Architecture looked for local examples that were still standing, and older photos…anything they could find and use to influence the design,” Derkson said.

One main post, which will be carved, will stand in the centre of the front of the building.

“We haven’t put the middle post up yet as it will be easier to carve on the ground,” said Derkson.

Four more posts will stand on each side of the centre post. All will feature Haisla artwork.

The new Health Centre was designed with Haisla members in mind, to meet their needs today and in the future. As the population of Kitamaat Village and economic activity in the area grows, so do the health needs of the Haisla community.

According to Haisla Health Manager Eric Bottah, the new building will allow the Health department to expand its role and services to the community.

The new Centre, which is significantly bigger than the current health building, will provide a large, modern space with the equipment and rooms staff and practitioners need to serve patients, right in the village itself. This will save members from having to travel to access certain services and medication.

“For example, a dentist will come to the Kitamaat Village to see patients a couple times a week,

Bottah said. “And there will be a pharmacy fridge for in-town pharmacies to drop off medication in the village instead of people having to go to town.”

As Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith said when work began on the new building, “It is crucially important that our health department has the space and resources it needs to adequately care for our community.”

The total cost of the new Health Centre is $6,721,187. The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) paid for the bulk of the project at just over $5.5 million. Haisla Nation Council put almost $1 million towards it, and Indigenous Services Canada contributed $200,000.

It has not yet been decided what will happen with the current Health Services building once the department moves into the new building.

Offices that will be housed in the new Health Centre

● Telehealth hub
● Dental Office
● Home & Community Care
● Primary Care
● Physiotherapy
● Youth & Family
● Counselling & Traditional Healing
● Social Worker
● Social Development
● Bathing and walk-in shower for clients
● Diabetes & Heart Disease
● Community Health Room and Kitchen
● Patient Care Aides
● Bio-med
● Patient Travel
● Pharmacy fridge
● Health Manager
● Laundry
● Child Friendly room
● Visiting Doctors’ Offices
●Examination Rooms