Indigenous multipurpose health facility off to tendering phase

 By Marc Lalonde

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new Indigenous health facility in Saskatchewan will soon become a reality after three nations worked together to close the gap in health facilities, the federal government confirmed last week.

The Saulteaux Pelly Agency Health Alliance’s (SPAHA)’s $30-million proposal for an Indigenous multipurpose health facility will go to tender after the feds agreed to fund the project.

SPAHA’s goal is to integrate the delivery of health services for three Saskatchewan communities while closing the infrastructure gap in Indigenous health care.

SPAHA is made up of the Key, Keeseekoose, and Cote First Nations in Saskatchewan.

It is expected the facility, once operational, will serve a combination of over 2,500 on-reserve and over 8,500 off-reserve members throughout the three communities.

Keesekoose First Nation Chief Lee Ketchemonia lauded the announcement.

“The announcement of this significant milestone for our new multi-use health care facility is really great news. Our members from the three **>First Nations<** communities will benefit from this project greatly,” he said. “Securing primary healthcare for our members has always been the end goal, and we are extremely excited to be one step closer to achieving this goal. We have had so many leaders that dedicated many years of service to make this dream come true for our communities. This multi-use health care facility will stand as a symbol for independence, healing, health and well-being.

Our people will benefit for many years to come.”

Construction on the project is expected to begin before April 1, 2023, and could take up to two years to complete.

Once complete, community members will have access to an extensive suite of services in a culturally relevant environment, including primary healthcare, mental health programs and services, long-term care, palliative care, and child and family services.

It will provide more than 4,000 square metres of space and will be located on Keeseekoose First Nation. In addition, the facility will grant community access to the Keeseekoose First Nation public health space.

SPAHA chair and Cote First Nation Chief George Cote said the health center’s approval is a way to help the three communities heal from past trauma together.

“Our vision given to us from our Elders and community members and prayers have come to fruition. We will be given an opportunity to provide the care, whether it be traditional or western methods, to serve our Nations,” he said. “It has been a long process, but the work we have done on this multi-purpose building, with the blessing of Canada, will be a way to heal together from past traumas to make the next generations healthier Nations amongst Cote First Nation, Keeseekoose First Nation, and The Key First Nation. This is our time to be moving forward in truth and reconciliation with the fulfilment of our Treaty right to health care. We are thankful to Canada for this great moment in history as we come together in unity.”

 Marc Lalonde is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for  IORI:WASE. The LJI program is federally funded.


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