After many years since the project’s initiation, a new health care facility in downtown Kenora may soon become reality. The team at Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe’iyewigamig (WNHAC) is excited to see this project come to life, bringing with it opportunities and benefits for clients, staff and the entire community.
“This project has been a labour of love, with many contributing to making this milestone a reality,” says Executive Director Serena Joseph. “Elders, staff (some of whom have since retired), board members, partners, and community leaders were all involved to ensure balance between the needs of staff and clients, as well as traditional and contemporary ways of providing health care.”
“The site will be a place of belonging, where First Nations and Metis people can receive wholistic and culturally safe primary health care. It supports reclamation of our medicine bundles, strengthens culture and identity, and advances both Indigenous and contemporary knowledge. It is worth the wait!” says Joseph.
Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe’iyewigamig is both a trailblazer and leader in Indigenous health care. Established through an Indigenous-led, community-driven partnership in 1998, WNHAC provides comprehensive and wholistic services that balance traditional and contemporary practices encompassing mind, body, spirit, and heart to Indigenous people in Kenora and surrounding First Nation communities.
Waasegiizhig was a healer who once lived in the Washagamis Bay area on Lake of the Woods, and whose spirit continues to guide WNHAC in its work. Nanaandawe’iyewigamig means ‘a place of healing’ in Anishinaabemowin.
WNHAC’s team has rapidly grown from a handful of staff to well over 130 FTE serving 15,763 registered clients. This is the third time WNHAC has outgrown its facilities in terms of capacity to accommodate staff and provide client care.
WNHAC has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Health for a number of years to design a building that will accommodate the needs of the community and the organization The layout and design are informed by WNHAC’s Anishinaabe traditions, interprofessional teams, relationship-based approaches, and wholistic primary health care objectives. WNHAC plans to consolidate its administration office as well as health promotion, emotional wellness, clinical services, and traditional care to encourage communication and collaboration among the various interprofessional primary care teams.
The facility is intended to reflect community values and a sense of client ownership in the space, to foster a place of belonging and healing.
Colliers Project Leaders is the Project Manager, and Keewatin-Aski Ltd. is the Prime Design Consultant. Multiple iterations of the design have been completed to meet the requirements of the ministry and of WNHAC’s ever-growing workforce and clientele. Design is now being finalized, and the team is working on Construction Documents.
The images here are a conceptual view of what the planned facility design could look like, which WHNAC, working with the ministry, is currently in the process of finalizing.