Edna Felix leads a trio of children in a Salmon Dance as hand drummers play during a ceremony unveiling plans for a new Shuswap and Secwepmc healing centre on Friday, July 24. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

New medical building planned for Sicamous will highlight Indigenous culture

A ceremony held at the district hall on June 24 showed off plans for building.

A meeting of cultures and lots of hard work has resulted in a plan for a state of the art healing centre to be built in Sicamous.

In a ceremony held at the Sicamous district hall on Friday, July 24, government dignitaries and members of the Splatsin First Nation gathered for a first look at plans for the Shuswap and Secwepmc Healing Centre to be located at 417-425 Main Street. Construction of the new building to house offices for doctors and other medical services will be aided by a $5,923,931 grant from the federal government.

The unveiling ceremony included elements of Indigenous culture such as hand drums and a Salmon Dance. Chief Wayne Christian, who has particular expertise with healing from his time as executive director of the Round Lake Treatment Centre, summed up the importance of incorporating the Indigenous culture into medical matters; the chief said healing for the Splatsin people must walk on two legs, western medicine and indigenous tradition.

“Culture is treatment, culture is healing,” he said.

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Pam Beech, who manages Sicamous’ existing medical clinic unveiled the concept drawing for the building. The drawing shows a V-shaped structure with a towering glass-roofed solarium where the two wings meet. Beech said other elements of the vision for the centre include an organic rooftop garden and therapeutic pools and a sweat lodge behind the building.

District of Sicamous town manager Evan Parliament said the healing centre is one of a range of projects the district is partnering with Splatsin to complete. He added that the creation of the healing centre follows recommendations 21,22 and 23 set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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Discussion from dignitaries inevitably dealt with the centre’s potential role in pressing public health concerns like mental health, COVID-19 and the opioid crisis. Rysz shared how he and Chief Christian had connected over plans for the facility and a shared history of loved ones lost to mental health issues.

Rysz added that the government grant would probably not be enough to bring the lofty plans for the healing centre into being on its own, but said the money would be found.

Construction of the centre is slated to begin in 2021 following a bid process.


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