BINGWI NEYAASHI ANISHINAABEK, Ont. — Members of this First Nations community on the southeast shore of Lake Nipigon are celebrating the official opening of their new health centre.
A ribbon-cutting was held Tuesday with Chief Joe Ladouceur and federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, the MP for Thunder Bay/Superior North, participating.
The health centre offers patient assessment and referral, health promotion consultations, and other health-related services to members of BNA living on-reserve and off-reserve, as well as to residents of other First Nations in the vicinity.
The facility includes a living space with a kitchen, providing a place to stay in the event a health care worker requires overnight accommodation while visiting the community.
Situated about 20 kilometres southwest of Beardmore, BNA was formerly known as Sand Point First Nation.
The community has been rebuilding its infrastructure since an Order in Council from the federal government returned part of Lake Nipigon Provincial Park to the First Nation in 2011.
A dispute over the ownership of the site dated back to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850 which left Sand Point members without an official homeland.
Chief Ladouceur said "we have worked tirelessly to prepare for the return of BNA members to their home community, and now we have four of our housing units rented to members living on the land year-round, with more housing being constructed."
He thanked Indigenous Services Canada for contributing $334,000 for the health centre.
Hajdu called the partnership with the federal government "reconciliation in action," adding "when people have equal access ot helath care, all of Canada benefits."