AUNDECK OMNI KANING— The smiles almost outshone the sun during a ground-breaking ceremony marking the start of construction on Phase II of the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre in Aundeck Omni Kaning.
The ground-breaking followed close upon the news that the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre received final and formal funding approval from Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) Deputy Minister Bob Bell on starting construction on Phase II of the health centre.
“It is certainly a relief to finally be able to release the details,” said Noojmowin Teg Executive Director Pam Williamson. “We have been telling people that something big is happening, but we have not been able to share what that ‘big’ thing was.” Now the news is out and it is all very, very good.
The building is shared between Noojmowin Teg and Mnaamodzawin Health Services Incorporated and the staff of both agencies have been a little squeezed in the current premises. The new building is 4,400 square feet and will house approximately 15 providers, noted Ms. Williamson. Service space in the new building will include a healing lodge, space for medicines and the making of medicines, a healer clinic, medical examination room, two mental health counselling rooms and large space for meetings and workshop activities.
During her welcoming remarks, Ms. Williamson noted that the health organization had conducted extensive consultations with local elders and traditional practitioners in designing the cultural spaces. “We didn’t just take this upon ourselves and tell people what it was they wanted,” she said. “It was important that these spaces meet their conception.”
“When you think about the ground-breaking it is not just about the building,” said Noojmowin Teg Deputy Chair Kim Aelick. “It is the people who come through these doors, the staff, the drivers who may only come through occasionally, all of the elders, the traditional people. We have to thank the chiefs and councils whose support helped to make this building a reality.”
The day began with a sunrise ceremony that was conducted by elder Gordon Waindubence, who was supported in the ceremony by traditional helpers.
The official ground-breaking began with a prayer by elder Georgina Nahwegahbow and a welcoming song by Falcon Migwans on the hand drum. “Let us all look out for one another,” finished Ms. Nawaegahbow following her prayer in Anishinabemowin. “We ask the Creator, miigwetch.”
Aundeck Omni Kaning Chief Patsy Corbiere welcomed those attending to the traditional territories of the Anishinabek.
Anishinabek Nation-Union of Ontario Indians Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee brought congratulations to all those who helped to make the new expansion possible. “We knew this day would come,” he said. “I want to congratulate all of the people who pulled this all together.”
Dignitaries attending the groundbreaking ceremony included: Grand Council Chief Madahbee; Sheshegwaning First Nation Chief Joe Endanawas; Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve Councillor Margaret Manitowabi; Zhiibaahaasing First Nation Chief Irene Kelles and Counsellor Kevin Mossip; Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation Chief Patsy Corbiere; the Elder’s Advisory Committee of the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising; the Noojmowin Teg board of directors; the Noojmowin Teg Infrastructure Steering Committee; Castelan and Architects’ Mike Ladyk, and Anthony Prosperi of the general contractors Prosperi Co. Ltd.
Following the group photo, the assembled dignitaries and community members took part in a celebratory feast.