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Stanton Elder's Council wants wellness spiritual centre in Yellowknife

The council says that could help ensure the cultural values of Aboriginal people are protected when they go for medical treatment. It would be a place for traditional ceremonies, food, language, medicines and healers.

Centre would be a place for traditional ceremonies, food, language, medicines and healers

The Elders’ Council at Stanton hospital wants the territorial government to help build a wellness spiritual centre beside the hospital.

The council says that could help ensure the cultural values of Aboriginal people are protected when they go for medical treatment.

“We are at the stage now to make this happen,” says Francois Paulette, chair of Stanton's Elders Wellness Council. “The land is not an issue. The issue now is are the territorial government and the federal government ready to make this happen.”

Paulette says the project requires funding and a business plan.

The centre would be modelled after a Native wellness centre in Alaska.

It would be a place where Aboriginal people from the territory could go for traditional ceremonies, food, language, medicines and healers.

Paulette says the current hospital does incorporate cultural elements, but there are limitations when it comes to incorporating traditional healing into Western medicine.

“That would be a huge improvement. Right now if someone wanted to smudge and pray and wash themselves with sweetgrass, you can't do that. The fire marshal would be there right away.”

Paulette says the council hopes to see a wellness spiritual centre grow to include a birthing centre and palliative care.

“We believe that everything is alive and living, everything has a spirit. So we have to reflect medicine, spiritual laws in that way,” he says.

“It's working. So why shouldn't we have a place where we can do that?  And have other non Dene share that experience, those ceremonies that we have.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health says the government hasn’t finalized plans for hospital renovations but when it does, there will be land will be set aside for the proposed centre.

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