New health centre named in honour of late Chief Starblanket
- Jeanelle Mandes | August 31, 2020
Star Blanket Cree Nation’s new community health centre honours the memory of former Chief Irvin StarBlanket, using his Cree name Kihew Kawaskasit, Eagle Flying in a Circle.
“We’re really honoured to have that name [chosen]. He was a longstanding leader in our community and to leave a legacy and to remember his good work he did for our communities in general,” said Sharidy Desnomie, Director of Kihew Kawaskasit Star Blanket Health Services Centre, which opened officially on August 14.
Star Blanket Cree Nation Chief Michael Starr says it’s an honour to host the facility on his community to bring all the surrounding communities to heal and grow together in a good way.
“We feel it will bring better programs for our people, that’s how we look at it with this facility,” said Chief Starr.
He added his community has suffered a number of tragedies within the past few years where band members took their own lives.
“Our hearts are still healing,” he said. “This facility will help this process and it will bring our families together and enhance their mental health. That’s the work we need to do and continue to do.”
The previous health centre was smaller and the band administration knew they needed a bigger space for extra programming to serve its community members. It took three years to build the facility and they received $800,000 from Health Canada.
The new facility called Kihew Kawaskasit Star Blanket Health Services will offer community-based programming that consists of healthy child development, mental wellness and addictions, counseling and preventative programming, medical transportation and assistance, youth programming under the mental wellness initiative and suicide prevention.
“Our hope for this centre is to provide some level of primary health care services here,” said Desnomie. The centre will serve the communities of File Hills, including Star Blanket, Little Black Bear First Nation, Peepeekisis First Nation and Okanese First Nation.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Kihew Kawaskasit Star Blanket Health Services staff, File Hills community members, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, and dignitaries from FHQTC, OTC, and Health Canada – First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.