Wiikwemkoong gets funds towards new nursing home build

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Ontario contributes $10M for 96-bed facility

WIIKWEMKOONG – The excitement was palpable as word spread throughout the halls at Wikwemikong Nursing Home (WNH) that the long-term care facility’s expansion plans had been approved.

“Oh my, everyone is so excited,” said WNH administrator Cheryl Osawabine-Peltier, who had just returned to her office after letting some of the staff know the approval had come in. “As for what’s next, I don’t know,” she laughed. “I just want to enjoy this moment.”

The announcement from the provincial government included news that the approval comes with a $10 million funding contribution. “That’s qualified,” said Ms. Osawabine-Peltier. “We still have to raise $15 million, but getting the official approval will make our capital campaign so much stronger.”

Known affectionately as the Wiky Nursing Home, WNH has long been lauded as an amazing retirement home and, despite its aging facilities, the long-term care facility based in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories continues to enjoy a stellar reputation with both residents and their families.

“I always tell people, ‘if you can just get past the old building, you will see how good it is here’,” said Ms. Osawabine-Peltier. WNH has garnered national attention through an inclusive online presence that showcases the joyful interaction between the staff and residents.

The provincial announcement notes that WNH has been allocated 37 new and 59 upgraded spaces—with the result being a newly constructed building housing a 96-bed home in Wiikwemkoong.

While the provincial announcement notes that the new facility will “offer services to Indigenous residents,” Ms. Osawabine-Peltier was quick to point out that WNH is open to everyone. “We have residents from communities all across Manitoulin,” she said, “even beyond. We do incorporate our teachings, such as with smudges and cedar tea, but everyone is welcome.”

In addition to having the land set aside near Thunderbird Park for the new construction and the $10 million in provincial funding assurance, WNH has a robust fundraising effort underway that has proved to be very exciting—the Playing With the Queen of Hearts progressive lottery.

“The last Playing With the Queen of Hearts was at $216,000,” she said. “We are in the third week and just had our third draw of $2,346—with a projected $8,000 for the next one.”

There is also a GoFundMe page set up, but that is being completely revamped.

The expansion of spaces at WNH is among 80 projects approved across the province, 60 of which involve new building construction. Neither of the other two nursing homes on Manitoulin were on the list of approved new spaces or facilities. 

Tickets for the Queen of Hearts draw are $5 and the draw is held every Thursday at 2 pm, with sales closing on Tuesday at 4 pm. The email address to send etransfers for the draw is queenofhearts@wikwemikongnursinghome.com.