The Lower Kootenay Band is showing off its new health centre.
The building, located just off Highway 21, has been operational for about a year, with staff moving into the facilities.
This week, the band celebrated the building opening by showcasing the operations to the community.
IH officials, LKB staff, and community members gathered for a barbecue outside of the building.
Chief Jason Louie says this is a huge milestone for their community.
“It was a long time coming. This is the first time in our history that we’ve had a clinic in our community where we offer doctor services twice a month to Lower Kootenay Band members, along with two full-time nurses, as well as services that weren’t as easily accessible as before.”
Louie says services such as physiotherapy, foot care, wellness clinics, social work, diabetes nurses, and more, will all be available at the clinic.
“We’re still very early in the infancy of the development, but we’re just going to keep pushing forward to bring the very best of healthcare services to the Lower Kootenay Band members.”
And that’s something that Louie says they unfortunately have not always experienced.
He says they have experienced difficulty and ill-treatment at other centres over the years, but this gives the community their own clinic.
“The community is starting to become really comfortable with utilizing their facilities. And that’s the goal. We want to make it feel like this is the LKB’s facility, that when they come here, they’re at home.”
“As we speak, there are community members painting hands, their hands. on the wall to symbolize that this is their building. And that’s what we’ve wanted from the very beginning.”
Louie adds that having the building right off the side of the highway also helps fight harmful stereotypes.
“Once upon a time, there was a period where just off Highway 21 where we sit, it didn’t look the greatest as far as the houses. It fed into that ugly stereotype. And now we have this state-of-the-art, beautiful building, that replicates our sturgeon nose canoe and we’re changing mindsets for sure.”
Louie says this is just the first step. The next is to bring the very best care to the Band.
“We want our community to understand that health care is a human right, which I don’t think is something that’s believed by many from our community, but it truly is a human right.”
“The next step is just always striving for excellence and we’re just going to keep bringing the best. I have a meeting next week in Kelowna with the First Nations health authority where I’m constantly going to war. That’s not just a figure of speech and going to bat for our community to bring back the very best, whether it’s funding, services, whatever it is.”