The ʔaq̓am community is hoping to break ground on a new Health and Wellness Centre that will centralize programs and services relating to health, youth and elders into one facility.
The project, which recently eceived $140,000 in funding from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), is also supported financially by the First Nations Health Authority and is hoped to be completed by the fall.
The new building will house health practitioners and activities as well as serve as the heart of the community.
“It is going to be a very special place that brings everyone together,” said Michelle Shortridge, the ʔaq̓am Director of Operations and Community Services. “We have been running our health programs out of one set of older facilities and our elder and youth activities out of another.
“The new Health and Wellness Centre will centralize these into one space. It will allow us to expand our existing programs for community members and offer new ones.”
The ʔaq̓am community turned to the CBT to help support the construction of wellness aspects that include the Elders health program, physical and mental health support groups and traditional healing.
“Our aim is to support communities as they address their priorities and improve the well—being of residents, which is precisely the goal of this new facility,” said Mark Brunton, Senior Manager for Delivery of Benefits.
“More than a building, it will directly impact the lives of ʔaq̓am community members. We’re pleased to be able to collaborate on this important project.”
The Health and Wellness Centre is part of the ʔaq̓am community strategic plan called Ka Kniⱡwitiyaⱡa – Our Thinking. The plan is modelled after the Ktunaxa tipi, linking goals and objectives to various poles used in its construction.
For example, the four foundation poles are community government, language and culture, spirit of community and lands and resources. Two of the eight tipi poles are also focused on health and infrastructure. Each pole is vital to the strength of the community, and all the poles support each other.
“I’ve enjoyed so many parts of this project,” said Shortridge, “but being able to include the four foundational poles of the tipi as part of the main entrance and incorporate Ka Kniⱡwitiyaⱡa into the actual design of the new centre is probably one of the neater features for me.”
Shortridge said it’s been a long journey, but worth it.
“It has been so satisfying to be part of the entire experience, beginning with engaging our community, knowing that this is going to benefit my children and my children’s children,” she said. “I am just waiting for the snow to melt as everyone is excited to get started.”