AUNDECK OMNI KANING—Earlier this week, staff, community members and dignitaries came together to celebrate the grand opening of phase two of the Noojmowin Teg-Mnaamodzawin Health Centre in Aundeck Omni Kaning.
The day started with a sunrise ceremony with Elder Gordon Waindebence, followed by breakfast and then opening prayers with Georgina Nahwegahbow.
Master of ceremonies Chris Pheasant welcomed everyone in attendance to the grand opening celebration and introduced Noojmowin Teg Health Centre board member Rosemary Pitawanakwat.
“As a board we were aware of the lack of space and directed the application for funding for the expansion,” said Ms. Pitawanakwat. “It is rewarding to see the efforts of five years of hard work come to fruition. A building is only as important as the services it provides and Noojmowin Teg is committed to providing quality, effective, culturally sensitive services.”
The Nimkii Tribal Drum group from M’Chigeeng performed, followed by Noojmowin Teg Executive Director Pamela Williamson taking the podium.
“Thank you all for coming today,” said Ms. Williamson. “It has been a really good morning so far. It has taken a long time to get to this point and it is very wonderful to be celebrating with you today.”
She noted the history of the original building and how the health centre has grown from 12 employees in 1999 to 30 this year. Ms. Williamson stressed how thankful they were for the funding of the expansion, as with the growing number of employees; many had offices in portables before construction took place.
Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee was in attendance for the celebration, thanking the “front line staff that look after our people.”
“When we were laying out the original building we did the layout to allow for expansion,” said Chief Madahbee. “We knew this day would come, I am just surprise how quickly it did.”
Chief Madahbee also commended the architecture and construction team on their work.
Aundeck Omni Kaning Chief Patsy Corbiere thanked Ms. Williamson for her hard work on the expansion and presented a gift to her on behalf of the community, as well as a gift on behalf of the UCCMM.
Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier noted the important work being done by Noojmowin Teg staff across the territory and how the new building will help community members.
Sheguiandah First Nation Chief Andrew Aguonie offered his congratulations as well.
“The spirit of Anishinaabe people has always been healing and it is nice to see that spirit continued and to see the growth in our communities,” said Chief Aguonie.
The building is shared between Noojmowin Teg and Mnaamodzawin Health Services Incorporated and the staff of both agencies. The $2.36 million addition is 4,400 square feet and will house approximately 15 providers. Service space in the new building includes a healing lodge, space for medicines and the making of medicines, a healer clinic, medical examination room, two mental health counselling rooms, equipment to access the Ontario Telemedical Network and a large space for meetings and workshop activities.
The grand opening concluded with an official ribbon cutting and feast.