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Representatives of the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) attended a Commitment to Partnership ceremony on Dec. 7 with the Sts’ailes First Nation and other health partners at the future site of Éyameth.
Éyameth, formerly known as the Sts’ailes Community Care Campus, is a First Nations Primary Care Centre (FNPCC) and is part of the FNHA’s First Nations-led Primary Care Initiative.
The ceremony began at the future site of Éyameth, on Lougheed Highway in Harrison Mills, with opening remarks by Chad Paul, capital project manager with the Sts’ailes First Nation. He thanked everyone in attendance and said having a health care centre to call their own has been a vision for many of their leaders, past and present. Paul went on to say that once Éyameth is open, it will serve not only the Sts’ailes First Nation, but the community and region at large.
The ceremony then moved to Charlie Longhouse at the Sts’ailes First Nation for a lunch of traditional foods. After the meal, FNHA staff participated in the ceremony as family and gifted quarters to everyone that was a part of the sacred work.
It was impressed upon those in the longhouse that even though MOUs and MOAs have been signed between the Sts’ailes First Nation and its partners, this ceremony was being held because this gave it the agreements significance, and that ceremony is what cements the relationship between the partners. Holding it in the sacred longhouse in the presence of ancestors gives it further significance. Those in attendance were also reminded that words spoken in the longhouse are more than just words, but have legal standing according to Coast Salish tradition.
At that point, representatives from the Sts’ailes First Nation, the Ministry of Health, the FNHA, and Fraser Health, were asked to speak, not only as partners, but as family who are working together.
After everyone spoke, the new Éyameth logo was unveiled. It was created by local artist Chad Leon and depicts two healing hands holding up sacred cedar branches in the shape of a heart.
The ceremony ended after four witnesses were called to speak and declare the ceremony followed proper protocol.
The Sts’ailes Nation has established the Sts’ailes Community Care Centre Society to support the delivery of culturally appropriate primary health care services and clinical support services for Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals through the development of Éyameth. Phase three of the four-phase project is expected to begin in April 2024.