It’s been two decades in the making, but a new multipurpose building for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band is on the verge of becoming a reality.
When it is complete, the 2,695 square metre building will house not only the band’s administration offices and departments, but a range of other facilities to serve the community.
“It will have a full health facility, including physicians’ offices and clinical rooms,” said Jade Jagar, speaking for the band.
“We’re going to have our own meeting facilities, we are going to have four boardrooms in there as well as an elder’s room and a traditional gathering room and a full size gymnasium with a commercial kitchen, so we will be able to host sporting events.”
Herman Edward, with support from Tiana and Les Louis, delivered the prayers and blessing at a ground breaking ceremony July 31 at the building site, about 13 kilometres south of Keremeos across from the current band school.
The groundbreaking was well attended by delegates from the community and LSIB partners including Tri-City Canada Inc. (general contractor), Health Canada, the Village of Keremeos, Bank of Montreal, David Nairne and Associates, Fortis BC Inc., Chase Office Interiors, Ricoh Canada as well as honored guests and elders.
Chief Rob Edward and band manager Lisa Montgomery-Reid welcomed the attendees and provided the history of the long path that has been travelled to bring this building and the services it will offer to the community.
The large building will be a landmark on the band lands, with a design based on traditional structure and incorporating natural materials and tones.
“The primary part of the building is a crossed pole design, which is reflective of a traditional meeting place for us,” said Jagar, adding that they are hoping to have artists from the native community doing the stones in the floor and the traditional place names designs in the foundations.
“We are really looking forward to it being a key focus for our community. It’s going to be something we can be proud of, that our youth can be very proud of carrying on into the future,” said Jagar. “It’s going to be our symbol finally, for our band.”
“We’re hearing a lot of positive things about it, about what it is going to bring to the community, about the pride it brings to our elders especially, leaving something like this for our youth.”
By situating it across from the current band school, Jagar said, students will be able to utilize the facilities as well, especially the gymnasium.
The band members approved the project with an overwhelming majority, with more than 80 per cent voting in favour of constructing the $6-million building.
“It spoke to the state of mind of the community of how much they recognize this is needed,” said Jagar. “We’re being funded by Health Canada for a major portion of it as well as a private loan from the Bank of Montreal that we were able to acquire based on the successful financials of our band.
The incorporation of the health unit will bring a new level of care to the community, and Jagar said they plan to implement an electronic medical records system, tying in with health centres at Kelowna and Penticton, that will help them attract doctors and specialists. The LSIB already has approval for a nurse-practioner to work on site.
“We will have a nurse-practitioner coming in at least once a week. She will be able to diagnose, she will be able to prescribe,” said Jagar. “We will be able to have specialists coming in for foot care clinics, diabetes clinics, mammograms.”
They would also have the ability, Jagar said, to support Interior Health’s portable MRI clinic, as well as transfer records within their system to the external system.
“I think it is going to bring a new level of care to the community that we haven’t been able to access,” said Jagar.
“And just traditionally and culturally a lot of our people are very wary about going outside the community. This is going to allow us to provide a level of health services we haven’t been able to offer.”
Tri-City Canada Inc. was in attendance at the LSIB offices the afternoon of the ground breaking and hosted a Job Fair to provide information on the available employment opportunities that this project will bring to the area.
LSIB is committed to supporting local contractors and businesses. If you are interested in more information on the opportunities available, please contact Wayne Delichte at Tri-City Canada Inc. at 250-372-3183.