Blending the Traditional and Modern

The ʔaq̓am Health and Wellness Centre provides holistic care for community members.

3 minute read

The new ʔaq̓am Health and Wellness Centre provides holistic care

The delegates cut the ribbon as the spirited beat of a youth drum circle hangs in the air. On July 14, 2020, under a blue, cloudless sky, the community of ʔaq̓am celebrated the opening of its new Health and Wellness Centre. Chief Joe Pierre Jr., who presided, said, “This exciting new project is about preventative health: a holistic and collaborative approach.”

The building project is part of ʔaq̓am’s strategic plan, Ka Kniⱡwitiyaⱡa – Our Thinking. To convey this, the bold red foundational poles of a giant Ktunaxa tipi are dramatically positioned at the entrance of the new centre. The poles serve to illustrate the four foundations of the strategic plan: health, language and culture, spirit of community, and lands and resources.

“It’s a great way to integrate Ka Kniⱡwitiyaⱡa into the design of the new building,” says Michelle Shortridge, ʔaq̓am Director of Operations and Community Services. “Our focus has been one of creating an aesthetic of welcome and calm.”

“The centre helps us in our commitment to develop partnerships directly with service providers in the community and offer different approaches to health and wellness,” she says. “Our language and culture team, for instance, will offer culturally based programming, which includes harvesting and preparing traditional medicine and food.”

With a holistic approach to health and wellness, the centre will also provide a wide range of practitioners and team members: a registered nurse, a family support worker, care aids, a social development program coordinator, a counsellor and a recreation coordinator. Other visiting professionals will be available on rotation: nurse practitioners, a social worker, a dietician and a nurse specializing in foot care.

While open by appointment only during COVID-19, the centre can accommodate all manner of preventative health and wellness therapies: physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage, traditional medicine, yoga and more. It has various private offices as well as a flex space.

“We plan to host a wide range of programming and services that focuses on individual health and wellness, with individual holistic care plans for all community members,” Shortridge says.

The community built the centre with support from the Trust’s Community Development Program. Additional funding from the Trust’s Energy Sustainability Grants helped it install solar infrastructure, which will help power the building with renewable energy and reduce the amount of purchased electricity it needs to use. This array of 108 solar panels demonstrates the community’s commitment to lands and resources.

As the first trial of solar in the community, says Shortridge, “This project was the perfect opportunity to implement our vision of sustainability and energy efficiency.”

The community also made a conscious choice to support the local economy during construction, partnering with nearby contractors to forge long-lasting relationships. The centre is also looking locally as they hire long-term employees.

For example, community member Cordell Birdstone mentored under the various expert building contractors throughout the project. Now employed as the centre’s Lead of Operations and Maintenance, he says the mentorship “gave me the ability to learn new skills that I will use while operating and maintaining the health and wellness centre, and on other projects as well.”

Says Shortridge, “We are stronger when we work together. I am proud of all those who came together to create a wonderful and beautiful facility for the ʔaq̓am community.”

Our Trust Magazine

Basin Stories

and more in your
inbox with Our Trust

Find a story

Search for a story using any of the fields below or select a region on the map to find stories for that region.

  • Keyword or Title

  • Area of Interest

  • Community

  • Date

Northern Region

Southeast Region

Southwest Region

Southeeast RegionSouthwest RegionNorthern Region