Today, representatives from the White Cedar Health Care Centre officially announced the grand opening of its new headquarters in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Community members were invited into the new facility, located at 125 Vickers Street South, to take a site tour and learn about the holistic treatment and pharmaceutical services that are now available in the north.
White Cedar Health Care Centre delivers an alternative program of care that brings modern medicine and counselling together with traditional healing practices to help First Nations people recover from opioid addiction and their harmful effects. ‘The White Cedar Way’; which guides the Centre’s model of care and service delivery, focuses on the Seven Grandfather Teachings, promoting total harmony and balance.
White Cedar Health Care Centre Manager, Michele Solomon says; “Our approach recognizes that restoring and maintaining lifelong well-being goes beyond prescriptions and quick fix solutions. The current health care system tends to focus on treating symptoms, while in Aboriginal culture, healing and wellness concentrates on treating the person as a whole. At White Cedar Health Care Centre, our team addresses the health and wellness of the individual—physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. This means administering modern medical treatments together with culturally appropriate support.”
The White Cedar Health Care Centre provides addiction counselling and other related mental health services on-site in association with established community service providers led by Thunder Bay Counselling Centre. The on-site aftercare includes traditional healing and cultural support conducted by First Nations Elders. The Centre is also planning to implement family practice and primary care in partnership with local community health organizations.
Northern FN Health Care Services Ltd, Director Chief Wayne Smith says; “The White Cedar Health Care Centre is responding to a demand for more treatment and aftercare for First Nations people to find healing for the long-term. We are launching today with an unconventional business model; to no longer be needed in the long-term because First Nations people in the north will become healthier. As a company, White Cedar Health Care Centre will be a part of the communities we service and not just a service provider. We will care for each other together, and in partnership restore health and wellness for First Nations people.”
The White Cedar First Nations Pharmacy is also located within the facility. The business supplies medicines and pharmaceutical services directly to Northern Ontario First Nation communities. Vice President, Community Relations Travis Boissoneau says; “Members of many First Nations communities do not enjoy the same easy access to common prescription pharmaceuticals as most Ontario residents. Remoteness of communities provide for unique challenges. We are developing partnerships with remote communities, to ensure First Nations people can get their prescriptions filled in an efficient and secure manner.”
The two businesses are owned and operated by Northern FN Health Care Services Ltd, a First Nations Company comprised of private investors and First Nation shareholders from around the region. Northern FN Health Care Services is committed to improving the quality of health care to First Nations and to assisting the communities in generating funds for social programs, which are severely needed in those communities.
To commemorate the opening, a white cedar tree was planted outside of the Centre at today’s Open House event. The tree will be one of seven trees planted throughout the City of Thunder Bay in park areas. Each cedar tree will be accompanied by one Grandfather Teaching and will be a part of a new community-healing walk.
White Cedar Health Care Centre Resident Elder, Sam Achneepineskum says; “The definition of medicine includes a deep connection to mother earth, going for a walk in the bush, a smudging ceremony, a gathering, or sitting down with an elder. This walk will be away for the community to learn about the teachings, which is a very significant part of First Nations culture, while supporting the greening and beautification of the city.”
Amanda Bay- Firedog Communications
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