‘Life-changing’ $7.4M centre for T’Sou-ke First Nation

Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2022 on a $7.4-million health and community centre that is being described as “life-changing” for the T’Sou-ke First Nation.

The 10,400-square-foot facility will include offices for the T’sou-ke administration, classrooms to support the teaching of Indigenous language and culture and a community hall for gatherings. The 1,800 square-foot health complex will give doctors, nurses and dentists ample room to treat the T’Sou-ke Nation’s 253 members.

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“It’s very exciting,” said Rose Dumont, T’Sou-ke councillor and administrative health co-ordinator. She said it’s the culmination of years of hard work and planning by current and previous councils.

Dumont said the new centre will allow the nation to build on its current services and add new supports for everyone from children to elders. Doctors, dentists and nurses from the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Inter-Tribal Health visit T’Sou-ke regularly. Special clinics are held throughout the year for mammograms, flu shots and other procedures. Programs include diabetes and nutrition workshops, infant programs and literacy classes.

The new complex replaces an old cedar-clad building and three worn portables that now serve as headquarters for the T’Sou-ke Nation at 2154 Lazzar Rd.

It will be built near the T’Sou-ke First Nation’s Petro Canada gas station, convenience store and Tim Hortons on Sooke Road. That $4.8-million project was completed in July 2019.

Jeff Frank, economic development officer for the T’Sou-ke Nation, expects tenders for the health and community complex to go out in September 2021, with construction starting in May 2022 and completion in spring 2024.

He said it is being financed by $3.9 million in government infrastructure grants, $2.2 million from the First Nations Health Authority and $1.3 million from the T’Sou-ke Nation.

“T’Sou-ke is following the footsteps of our ancestors always striving for a safe and healthy community while enhancing our territory,” T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes said in a statement. “The work we do today is for our children and our children not born yet, and we know we need to all do this together as Naut’sa Mawt [together as one].”

While touring the site of the future facility recently, Premier John Horgan said the new centre will link the community to health-care providers and serve as a community gathering place.

“As our economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that we build the crucial infrastructure communities need to be stronger and more secure than they were before,” Horgan said. “I’m proud to help celebrate this investment in building the T’Sou-ke Nation a much-needed community and health centre that will reflect their culture and help preserve their language.”

The T’Sou-ke Nation Health and Community Centre is one of 22 projects on Vancouver Island receiving joint federal and provincial funding under the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream.

The centre will also include a full kitchen, outdoor patio, washrooms and an elevator.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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