Gitanmaax celebrated the opening of its new Health & Wellness Centre last Friday.
Health director Bobbi McDonald introduces the staff working at the Gitanmaax Health & Wellness Centre.
An emphasis on a Gitxsan way of life is seen throughout the planned programming and design. Local artist Marie Smith designed the logo on the building and sign pointing people driving by the intersection of Highway 62 and Kispiox Valley Road.
Gitanmaax health director McDonald thanks operations manager Merle Greene for holding down the fort before McDonald started in May.
Gitanmaax executive director Dianne Shanoss describes some background and the wide variety of services at the new Health & Welness Centre.
Gitanmaax councillor Ardythe Wilson explained the four pillars she saw that make a foundation of wellness in her community.
“We have our mother clans, those are people who really look after us. We have our father clans and their roles and responsibilities toward us. We have a relationship with our lands. And then we have the spiritual side of who we are, the spirit that flows from the land,” she said.
“When we’re disconnected from those pillars of wellness, we start to become unwell.”
Gitanmaax councillor Ardythe Wilson thanks residents for their patience as the new council works to improve to make improvements like the new Health & Wellness Centre.
Wilson gave the example of how sport was already part of wellness, but now art was going to be integrated.
“As Gitxsan people, we express ourselves through song and dance, explaining to the world who we are. So you’ll see here the programs are being developed to be broader in a more holistic matter, and not just what the streams of funding are aimed at,” said Wilson.
Additional funding for those programs will be sought, said the councillor. The First Nations Health Authority is a partner.
First Nations Health Authority Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan community engagement coordinator Verna Howard on new beginnings at the Gitanmaax Health & Wellness Centre.
Gitanmaax split off from the Gitxsan Health Authority after 20 years to be independent in its health care offerings. Wilson said that does not mean they would not be working with other Gitxsan.
“Along the way I think there were different priorities that emerged, and different visions that emerged. Yet, we as Gitxsan have always benefited from the ability to work together. So even though there are communities that want to go in a different direction based on their communities’ priorities … and it’s a good thing — what we’re hoping and aspiring to is to work closely with all the other communities who have independent health centres in their communities but also continuing to work with Gitxsan Health Society and First Nations Health Authority,” she said.
Glen Vowell councillor Barbara Huson on Gitxsan Health Authority’s congratulations to Gitanmaax for opening its own Health & Wellness Centre.
Halayt, or medicine people, would also be included among health offerings from nurses, physiotherapists, and mental health counselors. Services Gitanmaax offers includes cover pre-natal care, drug, solvent and alcohol abuse counseling, disease control including HIV/AIDS, environmental health which involves water testing, and Brighter Futures — among others.
‘Ksan Performing Arts Group helps celebrate Gitanmaax Health & Wellness Centre opening.